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SHANNON and Ian Rentsch have taken another step toward a seventh AORC title by winning the Pedders Suspension Coffs Coast 400 in their #Aus1 Hogs Breath / BF Goodrich Tires Jimco last weekend.

Hosted in the stunning Coffs Harbour hinterland on a brand new track, the fourth round of the Australian Off Road Championship was run in conjunction with Coates Rally Australia and the WRC.

Rain on Friday night made for slippery conditions when the Buggies, Trucks and 4wds hit the narrow forestry tracks on Saturday.

While Hanson, Rhodes and Martin took the prologue honours, it was Rentsch who produced a masterclass in car control during the afternoons 3 lap section.

Skating from 6th to first, finishing the day ahead of #91 Rhodes and #89 Horan. On Sunday Rentsch consolidated his lead on the final five laps to take the win in an overall time of 5hr 9min 50.012sec.

“On Saturday it was really slippery like ice in places and there were trees and stumps all around. You couldn’t afford to drop off the track.

“Thankfully there was no more rain overnight as it was still slippery this morning, but as the track dried out it became more predictable and enjoyable. It would definitely be one of the toughest tracks in the championship.

“If you dropped the ball for one second it was going to be curtains down.” Rentsch said at the finish.

The father daughter team of Matt and Kerri Martin were second outright in their #121 Prolite Raceco buggy. Battling hard not only against their Prolite class mates, but the more powerful V8 and turbo charged Pro Buggy counterparts, the Martins threaded their naturally aspirated 3500cc V6 though the trees to take the Prolite class win and finish 10min 20 sec behind Rentsch’s Pro Buggy.

“It was the perfect track for the Prolite, like Milbrodale and the old Bridgestone International,” said Martin.

In the hunt for a podium finish alongside #89 Raana Horan and #138 Tony Fehlhaber, Ryan Taylor and Josh Curran made a late charge to secure third outright in the V8 powered #24 Tatum. The Queenslanders finished the 8 lap, 400km race in 5hr 20min 58.014sec.

A momentary lapse of concentration saw Tony Fehlhaber and Garry Howell slip just out of podium contention, after they hit a tree in the closing stages of the final lap.

Determined to finish, Fehlhaber managed to get the car back on the track and pilot the #138 Karcher Prolite to the chequered flag to finish fourth outright and second in Prolite.

The Extreme 2WD trucks put in a spectacular performance both out in the forests and in the arena at Coffs. Launching high off the Brown and Hurley jump for the crowd and dialling in the opposite lock to drift between the trees.

After battling with Beau Robinson and Ken Skinner for 8 laps, it was the #403 Ford F-150 of Greg Gartner and Jamie Jennings that took the class win and fifth outright in a time of 5hr 25min 59sec. Robinson and Skinner brought the #402 Tonka Truck home second in class and 8th outright.

Sixth outright and third in Probuggy was the TRD V8 powered #71 Racer of Talbot Cox and Andrew North.

Colin Hunter and Simon Campbell asserted their authority early amongst the Extreme 4WD’s and were never headed in the twin turbo V6 powered #802 Dodge Dakota.

A close tussle developed between the Super 1650’s of Browning and Cowie across the weekend with just 50 seconds splitting the pair on Saturday night, with Browning holding the upper hand despite an engine miss.

On Sunday Chris Browning and Chris Clarke were able to extend the margin in the #202 Lothringer, to take the class win and 9th outright ahead of second in class and 10th outright, #247 Mark Cowie and Brett Blackshaw.

The #683 Polaris of Andrew and Sam Crammond took the Superlite UTV Class honours.

Drew Corocan and Tony Nikora recovered from a blown rear diff in the promotional rides on Friday to pilot their #777 Pajero to the Production 4WD Class win. Geoff Pickering was out of contention early after sliding his #701 Pajero off the track during section one, however he re-joined the event on Sunday to post consistently quick lap times and gain some valuable championship points.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.