- Held over Easter, the popular point to point desert race format introduced in 2018 returned, with competitors on both two and four wheels racing from coastal Carnarvon to the outback oasis of Gascoyne Junction and back;
- The Elphinstone brothers locked in back to back victories in their #44 twin turbo V6 Jimco in the Auto division, and were also rewarded with the outright Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash “King of the River” title.
- Honda rider #1 Cody Upton mirrored Elphinstone’s effort in the Moto division, backing up his 2018 win with victory again in 2019.
Photos by Sean McTigue / Dirtcomp.
Building on the success of 2018’s new point to point race format that saw competitors racing from Carnarvon on the coast, 205km east to Gascoyne Junction and back, the Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash built up a head of steam running into the 2019 event. Entries in the auto division grew to 35, bolstered by the new generation of offroaders in the SXS category. While a solid field of 51 moto’s have entered the iconic event, including 19 quads.
“2018 marked the launch of our point to point format and it is exciting to see so many competitors embrace the concept and return in 2019. We’ve seen an explosion in the SXS and quad bike categories, boosting an already healthy field that stars a number of former event winners.”
“The course stretching from Carnavon to the Junction and back is essentially the same as 2018, with a few deviations around the water from the late seasonal rain. The track is still quite tacky from the wet weather and there should be a lot less dust than usual early in the weekend.” Said Ted Schultz, President of the Gascoyne Off Road Racing Club.
After a rejuvenated Show ‘n’ Shine on the Fascine outside the Gascoyne Hotel on Thursday afternoon the competitors got down to business on Good Friday with the 11km prologue to determine the starting order at the Carnarvon Speedway. After recent rainfall followed by a downpour on Thursday night dampened the track significantly, the decision was made for the bikes and quads to race the original prologue track and for the auto competitors to race a modified track.
In the auto section, the Racetech Hustler of Troy and Deborah Schoen took a narrow 2 second victory over the BAT Pro buggy of Justin and Archer Steadman with Darren Agrela bringing his Jimco home just 4 seconds further back. The top 8 competitors were split by just 30 seconds, setting up an exciting race amongst the four wheel offroaders.
Amongst the motos, 2018 overall winner Cody Upton led the field away on the #1 Honda. However opening the course proved to be a tough task with Upton finishing in fourth overall. Taking the coveted number 1 starting position was KTM rider James McCarthy, stopping the clock some 13 seconds ahead of fellow KTM Rider Thomas O’Connell, with the Yamaha of Alex Moore rounding out the top 3 outright. While the leading quad was ATV MX convert, Luke Gaisford on his #14 Honda.
The first day of the main event saw the field race east approximately 205 kilometres from coastal Carnarvon to the outback oasis of Gascoyne Junction. The auto field were the first to depart the start line at 8am, with the #19 SS Racetech Pro buggy of Troy Schoen leading the field away. Starting out of position two Justin and Archer Steadman had a day to forget, with multiple flat tyres slowing their progress before a stray tree branch came through the front of the buggy and struck Archer, forcing their withdrawal. Thankfully the damage wasn’t too serious and Archer will make a full recovery.
Out in front, Schoen was soon put under pressure by the Jimco Pro buggies of Darren Agrela and Shane Elphinstone, however Agrela would soon be out of the event with mechanical issues. Elphinstone was able to get past Schoen who was suffering some electrical gremlins and despite some overheating and steering issues, Elphinstone managed to pull a commanding lead to cross the line at Gascoyne Junction with a lead of nine minutes over his nearest competitor.
Having started Day 1 from 12th position, John Purshouse & Murray Hynes stormed through the field in their Extreme 4WD Ford Ranger. They completed day one in second position with a lead of a little over two minutes to the Jimco Pro class buggy of Dean & Jordon Terry. Malcolm Yeardley put in an impressive performance in the #171 BAT Pro Lite buggy, finishing the day as the leading Pro Lite vehicle, while the Bullet Sportslite buggy of Peter Barrett punched well above its weight bracket, finishing the day in seventh outright.
Mathew Birnie was the leading SxS Turbo vehicle, completing the day in sixth outright and looking to move up through the field on day two. Gary and Christopher Kirkwood were the sole Production 4WD competitors and cruised into the Junction in 21st position. Michael Davis & Andrew Kingscott, the sole Super 1650 entry would start day two from 23rd. Russ Cullen was on top in the Extreme 2wd category, while Matty Beck took charge of the Performance 2wd Class in the WA Junior Off Road Development Program Kingswood.
After a night under the outback stars at the Gascoyne Junction Racecourse, the silence was broken with the rumble of race engines early on Easter Sunday. The cars were the first to hit the track and the Elphinstone brothers, Shane and Curt left a trail of Gascoyne gold dust in the wake of their #44 Jimco as they charged west towards Carnarvon. Cutting over three minutes off their time on the return leg, Elphinstone stopped the clocks in an overall event time of 4hr 15min 13.2seconds to take back to back wins in the auto category in his #44 Elphinstone Racing Jimco.
John Purshouse and Murray Hynes drove a faultless race to maintain their overnight position on the road to hold on to second outright amongst the autos in their #807 Ford Extreme 4wd in an overall time of 4hr 33min 53sec. After a disappointing event in 2018 when their engine blew on the way to the start of prologue, this was a great reward for the team.
Despite a flat tyre in the closing stages, Mal Yeardley with navigator Alex Cowan jumped up into podium contention on the return leg, finishing in a time of 4hr 50min 42sec in their #171 Prolite to take third outright and the Prolite Class win.
Mathew Birnie & Rochelle Funneman continued their domination of the SxS Turbo class in their #682 CanAm Maverick, winning the class and locking in 4th outright, just 26 seconds behind Yeardley. Former winners, Brett and Kevin Renton piloted their #74 Jimco into 5th outright and second in class.
The sole Sportlite buggy competitors Peter Barrett & Craig Carson, backed up their day one performance and powered home to 6th outright and the class win. Ahead of #61 Dean and Jordon Terry, #651 Colin Bevan and Michael Dodds, #696 Sean Fitzpatrick and Brett Funneman and the #866 Nissan Patrol of Mark Murray and Jim Ingham who rounded out the top ten.
Brad Cooper & Aaron Smithson were one of the big movers on Sunday morning, charging from 19th to 3rd in his #968 BAT Pro buggy on the return leg, however the time lost on day one thanks to a flat tyre left him sitting in 11th outright.
#234 Michael Davis and Andrew Kingscott sealed the Super 1650 class win, while #748 Gary and Christopher Kirkwood greeted the Carnarvon chequered flag in their Landcruiser to take the Production 4WD class honours. #583 Matty Beck secured the Performance 2WD class win in the WA Junior Development Program Holden Kingswood. While Russ Cullen piloted the little #455 Mitsubishi Galant home, taking out the Extreme 2WD class.
In the moto section, day one leader #1 Cody Upton not only faced stiff opposition from his fellow competitors and the tough terrain on the race home, he would also have to overcome a broken left hand. A rock thrown from a competitor’s bike struck Upton’s hand on the run to Gascoyne Junction on day one, meaning the reigning champion would need to fight through the pain barrier to retain his title. And fight he did!
While not able to match the pace that he set on day one, Upton was able to do just enough to lead the Moto field home to Carnarvon to take back to back Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash victories. Upton’s hard work on the first leg paid dividends, with #19 James McCarthy forced him to settle for second outright despite an impressive race home, falling 2 minutes 18 seconds shy of Upton. Alex Moore outgunned #292 Thomas O’Connell to jump one place up the leaderboard on the home run. Bringing his #69 Yamaha home four minutes behind McCarthy and 1 min ahead of O’Connell to round out the outright Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash Moto podium.
#54 Jye Schaap, #12 Damon Meyer, #211 Luke Thomson and #466 Cameron Smart filled 5th to 8th outright respectively, with #23 Michael Lough taking 9th and the Veterans class win. His classmate, #240 Andrew Somers rounded out the top ten. While #122 Rob Pollard was the quickest in the Masters Class and 13th outright.
Amongst the hotly contested quad category, ATV MX specialist #14 Luke Gaisford powered home from the Junction to win his first desert enduro. Finishing 15th outright ahead of #27 Blake Croonen and #30 Colin Balshaw.
The event saw 30 motos and 23 cars complete the 400+km race distance. The switch to the point to point format has continued to prove popular with competitors. The outstanding desert racing terrain provides the perfect stage for a true endurance race, where ‘Winning is something, finishing is everything’. And when things don’t go quite to plan, the excellent tarmac service road between Carnarvon and outback oasis of Gascoyne Junction makes life easy for the service crews. The Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne Dash is scheduled to return even bigger and better in 2020.
For full results from the 2019 Coral Coast Helicopter Services Gascoyne visit: