Martin and De Simone start 2024 season with section win

Saturday 20 April, 2024
Photos: Dan Thompson
Brent Martin and Andre De Simone lead the Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash after an exciting opening day of the 2024 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship season.
In what is shaping up to be an extremely close battle for event honours, Martin and De Simone finished the day’s one lap section with a slender lead of four and half seconds over James Cook and Mitch Aucote.
Starting from fourth place after a solid effort in the morning’s Transportable Shade Sheds Prologue, Martin and De Simone had an almost faultless run during the day’s solitary lap of the 106km course to record a time of 59 minutes and 41.9 seconds.
With Cook and Aucote not far off the leaders, and the third placed Dale Martin and Tanner James only five seconds off the Victorian, just 10 seconds separating the top three crews with the top three clocking a sub-hour race time.
Missing out on a top three finish for the section was South Australian father-daughter duo Aaron and Chelsea Haby, who ended up 18 seconds off the second Martin Motorsport entry, while Josh Howells and Gordon Tardew rounded out the top five.
In promising signs for the New South Welshman, who had failed to register a time in Transportable Shade Sheds Prologue due to mechanical issues, a top five finish proved a strong result for the multiple-time AORC race winner in his return to the championship.
More Pro Buggies in Aaron James and the second Haby entry, of Carl and Chloe Roehr, ended the day sixth and seventh respectively.
The section’s highest placed crew outside of a Pro Buggy were Extreme 2WD leaders Beau Robinson and Shane Hutt, who steered their trophy truck to eighth overall and sit just 55 seconds off the leaders overnight.
Despite being not far off the top, Robinson’s eighth place was cause for concern after the West Australian finished second earlier in Saturday morning’s Transportable Shade Sheds Prologue.
Section one proved a similar story for OBR184 teammates Travis Robinson and Paul Currie, as the reigning champion finished ninth place - an alarming drop after the reigning champion beat Beau and Hutt in Prologue to start the race from top spot earlier in the day.
Taking out the final place of the top 10 was last year’s runner-up Mel Brandle and his son Liam Brandle, who also comfortably lead the Prolite class after the first section.
Leading the Transportable Shade Sheds SXS Motorsport Australia Championship after one section are James and Michael Mogford, who placed 18th in the overall AORC standings - just two places off Sportslite class leaders Christian and Ashton Montesalvo.

PDD-0001 Dan Thompson
Other class leaders for Saturday include Phil Lovett and Luke Stanley (Extreme 4WD), Michael Shipton and Paul Chorlton (Performance 2WD), Rick Chambers and Patrick Geraghty (Super 1650), Jan Wisse and Emily Brandle (SXS Sport), and Norman Parker and Mark Robertson (Production 4WD).
The opening day of the event also had its fair share of drama, as a number of high-profile crews were caught out by the challenging course, including  Trophy Truck stars Brent Smoothy and Brett Comiskey with gearbox issues, and both Matt Hanson and Shane Elphinstone suffering engine issues.
South Australians Lachlan Bailey and Nathan Sracek won Transportable Shade Sheds Prologue for SXS Pro, but failed to finish the section after suffering issues.

View the full results here.

The Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash continues tomorrow with crews to complete three laps of the 106km course from 9am AEST.
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