(14/9/2013) QUEENSLAND’S Jared Melville and Kurt March took day one honours at the fourth round of the Australian Off Road Championship, Coates Hire Rally Australia held just north of Coffs Harbour today.
Qualifying in third place, Melville quickly moved the #79 V8 powered Razorback into second when Gerald Reid failed to start in the #3 Gulf Western Oil Pro Buggy due to brake issues. He then took advantage of the relatively dust free conditions to move into first when the early race leader, Matt Hanson hit a stump that had been dislodged onto the track in the Aus1 SMU Jimco. From that point Melville never looked back, to nail the two 52km laps in an overall time of 1hr 32min 54 seconds and he heads into tomorrows final four laps with a 2min 17sec margin.
Stepping up from the Super 1650 class to Proclass at the start of this season, Melville has quickly adjusted to the extra power of the V8.
“We are still a little bit surprised to find ourselves at the front of the field at an AORC round amongst the big names of the sport. We were checking our mirrors constantly this arvo but there was no one there, so we must have been setting a good pace. The track is tight and technical and there is absolutely nowhere that you can switch off. We are looking forward to tomorrow and the clean air out the front” Jared Melville said.
After prologuing in eighth, Travis Robinson and Paul Currie have stormed through the thick powdery dust hanging amongst the trees to finish in second place this afternoon in their twin turbo V6 #13 OBR Jimco.
While Brad Gallard and Scott Modistach made threading their #454 Toyo Tires Extreme 2WD Trophy Truck through the narrow tree lined forestry tracks look easy, as they powered their way to the class lead and into third outright.
Fourth and fifth are separated by just 22 seconds, with the two championship favourites, Shannon & Ian Rentsch in the #33 SR Racing Jimco currently leading the #18 Racer of Hayden Bentley in fifth. With a vital swag of championship points up for grabs, the pace is guaranteed to be hot between the two former Australian champions.
Andrew Mowles and Tim Coach are the overnight leaders of the Prolite Class in their Australian built #135 Razorback. Russell and Judy Hartnett have been thriving on the forestry tracks, drawing on their experience at tracks like Jimna and Gatton to lead the Super 1650 category in their Toyota powered Cougar. Paul Youman and Mitch Marsden have taken their #506 Hilux to a handy lead in the Performance 2WD Class. Mitsubishi’s dominate the two 4WD categories, with Rob Chapman and Ross Challacombe sitting in 11th outright in their Pajero and are unchallenged in the Extreme 4WD category. While Geoff Pickering and Dylan Watson have control of the Production 4WD Class in their V6 Pajero.
25 Teams completed both laps of the 52 kilometre course today.
The AORC component of Rally Australia continues tomorrow 38km north of Coffs Harbour at Frank’s Place. The technical forestry tracks will see the offroad racers compete over four more laps, split into two sections. For more information visit www.aorc.com.au