Since joining the Australian Off Road Championship in 2005, ‘Smithy’s Place’ at Hyden has played host to the West Australian round of the AORC. This Easter all the high flying, high powered offroad racing action returns to the West, as Australia’s top competitors converge on Hyden, 340km east of Perth for the first round of the 2011 championship, the ARB Pinjarra Engineering Hyden 450.
Headlining the 71 strong field are the 2010 Australian Off Road Champions, David Fellows and Mark Bergamin. The South Australian team are refreshed after the long off season and are ready to defend the hotly contested title in their twin turbo charged Peter Kittle Motorsports Jimco. Fellows kickstarted his 2010 championship assault with a win at the ARB Pinjarra Engineering Hyden 450 and will be striving to repeat that form this year.
Fellows is not likely to have it all his own way, with an East meets West battle of world class offroad racing machinery entered. Former Australian champs Shannon Rentsch and Hayden Bentley are making the trip across the Nullabor, along with Sydney’s Brad Prout who finished third outright in 2010. While last season’s runner up, Danny Auricht will be heading west from the red centre to lock horns with the strong field of locals, which includes the Outerbounds Racing Jimco’s of Beau and Travis Robinson, Eric Phillips, Brad Cooper and Justin Steadman to name just a few.
The charge for the podium is likely to extend further than just the Proclass machinery. Extreme 2WD Class Champ, Chris Western has powered up his Mickey Thompson truck during the off season, with the addition of a fresh Chevy, while Colin Hunter will be debuting his Dodge Dakota Trophy Truck in the Extreme 4WD Class at Hyden.
Effectively rolling their race cars out into the backyard will be Brad Mudge from Holt Rock, who is fresh from a second outright performance at the Gascoyne Dash in his Razorback and the high flying De Tomaso Pantera of Glen and Jay Ward from Wagin. Three generations of Hosking’s will also be racing with Terry entering his Ford Ranger in the Performance 2WD Class, his father Tom campaigning in the Extreme 2WD Class and his Daughter Annabelle unleashing the 1300cc buggy in the Sportsman Class.
The popular event boasts a new race format for 2011. The point to point section from Smithy’s to Hyden and back on Saturday has been dropped due to the logistics of the large entry field, in favour of a new look four lap race on Sunday. The track has almost doubled in length to 112km thanks to the generosity of the land owners, the Smith family and the neighbouring Lynch and Nichol families. It incorporates many of the old favourites including the massive series of jumps down Christie’s Hill, the high speed straights through the wheat paddocks and the stadium style arena at Smithy’s. The extended course loops close to Hyden with an exciting new jump built at the gravel pit just outside town. Guaranteeing there will be some exciting action for both the spectators and TV cameras alike.
Before the green flag drops on the 448km long course race, the starting order will be determined by a 13km sprint around Smithy’s Place on Saturday afternoon. Following the prologue the Top Ten will have a final shoot out for pole position and the dust free run from the startline on Sunday morning.
Round two of the five round title fight for the Australian Off Road Championship will be the Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race, held in Alice Springs on the Queens Birthday Long Weekend, June 10th-13th.