This is one Finke I won't forget....
Chris Western - Off Road Rush Mickey Thompson Race Team
The Transport Department (Dad, Bobby, Stuey and apprentice Nick) arrived in Alice Tuesday and we headed out to the Alice Springs Off Road Club for some testing.
I had the settings for the FOX Shocks already set so it was really just to get my eye in driving the whoops. Testing was really cool and then the rear wheels locked up as I was driving it back to the trailer.
We diagnosed the problem to be 5th gear, so we whipped the nose cone off and bits fell out on the ground! Rang Craig from Albins immediately and a plan was put in place to get us to the start line. Leon Edmonds from Mark Burrows Racing flew in with the part on Friday afternoon, Michael Marson spent a couple of hours lying under the element in the Hotel Car Park fitting it back together for us. A quick spin around the car park and she was all good to go to scrutineering.
Scrutineering was a breeze this year, drove straight through and had the car lined up on display within 10 minutes of arriving. This venue was excellent and the atmosphere was great.
Prologue Saturday morning was all going well until a yellow flag meant we had to come back in and have another go. I looked across at Stu and said 'I don't know if I can repeat that performance again, I'm a bit puffed'. We went straight back out and prologued 13th which put us in a good position to start the race to Finke.
Race Day Sunday morning and we were pumped to go. We got out of the arena, onto the straight, went to pull 5th gear and there was nothing. Shit!! I said to Stu, 'No 5th mate, so we will have to sit on the rev limiter in 4th'. Conditions for the Finke this year were the best I have seen them, with not a lot of dust. With my Lightforce lights shining through, they knew we were coming quick and it was easy to round up the first two cars by the 50km mark and then settle into a good rythm to make it into Finke in 2h:01m.
Pulled into the pit at Finke, alongside the Element Crew, and out come the stories straight away. Pulled out the tools, Stuey, James and I had in the car to service the buggy while we waited for the semi to get to Finke.
We added more grease to CV's, replaced a clamp on the outer leather CV Boot, filled her up with fuel, watched our mate Troy Boland come into Finke on his bike, and she was good to go back to Alice the next day.
Race Day Monday morning, I was starting out in 14th position with only 12 secs separating me from the car in front, and with Aaron Haby 19 secs behind me, this was going to be a hectic start.
From the drop of the flag we just held her flat. About 20km out of Finke we lost 3rd gear, so I clicked her into 4th and did the whole race back to Alice in one gear. I think our max top speed was 171km/h and
at about this time you could see Stuey start to tap his feet, getting very impatient!
The Element rode absolutely awesome across those whoops, as it didn't matter how big they got, we were still able to keep her flat. The Mickeys proved themselves yet again, running 20psi all round in the new MTZP3, racing through deep red sand, into slippery clay straights where the water was lying and then on to the gravel sections. This is my favorite type of terrain as you can slide the car into the corners knowing you have maximum grip with the Mickeys to hold it.
Made it back into Alice in a time of 1h:55m. This is something I have wanted to achieve for a long time, breaking that 2 hour barrier.
Congratulations to Glenn Owen and Matt Ryan on their Finke win. Awesome effort.
Thanks to my Crew, family and mates. A huge thanks to my sponsors, Mickey Thompson Tyres Australia, Lightforce Australia, Element Off Road and Racer Imports.
Now back to the shed, and prep the car for my favourite race of the year, the Waikerie Enduro in July 2016.