The South Australian based team of Brad Gallard and Scott Modistach tamed one of the toughest tracks of the Australian Off Road Championship to win the Albins Offroad Gear Goondiwindi 400 held in Queensland on the weekend. Already pumped from his recent Finke Desert Race win, Gallard unleashed the #454 Monster Energy Geiser Bros Trophy Truck on the suspension pounding whoops and melon holes for which Goondiwindi is famous. After battling with Bryce Chapman’s #58 Runamuck Jimco for the lead early in the race, Gallard took the lead at the start of lap 3 when Chapman pitted with a flat tyre. From this point they didn’t look back, greeting the chequered flag waived by Goondiwindi Mayor Graham Schieu in a time of 4hrs 11min 40sec to take their maiden AORC round victory at the 400km race.
Second outright were the local favourites, Joe Bulmer and Aaron Lewis who worked their way through the field of 69 entrants in their V8 powered Jimco. The Goondiwindi based team leapt from 16th on the starting grid to second outright over the five 80km laps, to finish 14 min 22 sec behind Gallard’s V8 Trophy Truck.
Relative newcomers to the sport, Dan Bonnor and Justin Montesalvo were another Queensland team to carve their way through the pack. Starting just ahead of Bulmer in 15th after Saturdays prologue, Bonnor drew on his motorcross background to whip through the savage terrain and nail down third outright in their V8 powered #954 GET Performance race car.
Gerald Reid and Aaron Saliba continued the dominance of V8 power this year at Goondiwindi, locking in fourth outright in their sweet sounding #39 Later Engineering Pro Buggy. Settling into fifth and the first turbo car to greet the chequered flag was Team Taylors #6 GET Performance race car. Fresh off the water from the USA, Nev Taylor took the wheel for the opening lap on Saturday before handing the keys over the US based offroad racing star Harley Letner for Sundays first two laps. Nev then jumped back into the drivers seat to close the race out, finishing in a time of 4:35:57
Sixth outright was Les Marshall and Glenys Rose in the #105 VQ35 Nissan powered Jimco. Marshall pounced on the class lead in the final two lap section when podium contender Matt Owen retired, allowing them to break through for their first AORC Prolite class victory. Jared Melville set the pace early amongst the Super 1650’s, but reigning class champs Darryl Smith and Michael Matthews in the #201 Alumicraft continued to dominate the category, taking the win and finishing in seventh. Three minutes behind Smith was #245 Cougar Super 1650 of Russell and Judy Hartnett, which was the first beam car across the finishline.
Sandy Bowman and Daniel Hardman dominated the Extreme 4WD Class at the Albins Offroad Gear Goondiwindi 400, punching their #833 V8 GQ Patrol into 9th and taking the class win. New Zealands Raana Horan and Michael Connor looked like they were set to pick up where they left off at SeaLake, putting the 4WD Titan into eighth on the starting grid. However a rollover in the melon holes on Sunday morning forced an unscheduled pitstop and a conservative approach for the remainder of the race. Allowing Bowman to comfortably take the class win from Horan by over 30 minutes. The mother and daughter team of Leila and Larissa Chapman took third in the Extreme 4WD category in their turbo Pajero.
Burns, Topfer, Chapman and Gardner all went toe to toe early in the Production 4WD Class. But consistency proved to be the key for Evan Burns and the McKays in the #789 short wheel based Pajero, with the team winning the class by just over a minute from the #722 Pajero of Michael and Linda Topfer. Rob Chapman and Ross Challacombe rounded out a good weekend for Mitsubishi, taking their Triton to third in class. In the Performance 2WD Class the trend continued with SeaLake’s Bernie Clohesy and Kim Stacey keeping their V8 powered #570 Mitsubishi Triton ahead of Scott Gould’s #522 V8 Rodeo all weekend.
While the Gallard Geiser Truck was never challenged at the head of the Extreme 2WD Class, runners up Greg Campbell and Billy Bastian in the iconic #475 Porsche played a patient waiting game as the race unfolded to take second in class, ahead of the #402 Mickey Thompson truck of Chris Western and Stuey Bishop. Earlier in the weekend Billy Geddes and Jamie Ward were smoking the 80km Goondiwindi course, charging from 11th to second on the road behind Gallard in the #441 Geiser Truck. However a massive high speed barrel roll on Malapunyah Run at the end of section two saw the central Queensland based team exit the event in spectacular fashion. Both Billy and Jamie are reported to be OK after the incident, which is a testament to the strength of the Geiser Bros Trophy Truck and the safety gear the team embraced.
With the Albins Offroad Gear Goondiwindi 400 done and dusted the race teams attention now focuses on round 3 of the AORC in South Australia. Gallards victory keeps the race for the 2012 Australian Off Road Championship wide open, ensuring an exciting battle will unfold on the 7-9 September when the offroaders head to the Tantanoola pine forests for the Teagle Excavations ARB Pines Enduro.