The 2015 Tatts Finke Desert Race is set to be the biggest event in Australian Off Road Championship history as a record number of competitors, volunteers and fans converge on Alice Springs, Northern Territory, for Round 2 of the season this weekend (June 5-8).
A record 140 entries for the car section – along with 600 places in the bike section – were confirmed by organisers for this year’s milestone event due to overwhelming demand to be a part of the 40th running of the most famous offroad endurance event in the country.
So much so that the 2015 AORC entry list for Finke includes every car-winning driver since 1998, including 5-time winner Mark Burrows (#21), 5-time winner David Fellows (#92), 2-time winner Hayden Bentley (#418) who this year swaps from the single-seat racer buggy to a Racer Engineering Trophy Truck, Extreme 2WD heroes Greg Gartner (#410) and Brad Gallard (#454), and 3-time winner and reigning Finke Champion Shannon Rentsch (#1).
Rentsch, who currently leads the AORC championship points table after claiming the opening round of the season in Mildura in his #1 Hogs Breath Café / BFGoodrich Tires backed Jimco Buggy, says that this year’s Finke Desert Race trophy will be the one everyone wants to win.
“Being the 40th, if we can pull off a win it will be unbelievable and we’ll be working very hard for sure!” said Rentsch. “Last year’s [win] was probably the most memorable Finke win out of the three we’ve had so far just because of the technical dramas we had in the lead-up to the race. But to win back-to-back again and especially this year’s record event would be awesome.”
An estimated 15,000 spectators are expected to camp along the 225km track to watch firsthand the best of Australia’s offroad competitors tackle the tough desert race, while more than 300 volunteers will help run the event which has grown into the biggest annual sporting event in Central Australia and a 4-time NT Tourism Award winner.
A total of seven classes will battle it out at round two of the Championship, with six of last year’s Finke class winners returning to defend their wins including Rentsch for Pro Buggy, Shawn Swaffield (#110) for Prolite Buggy, Chris Browning (#201) for Super 1650 Buggy, Dan Osinski (#502) for Performance 2WD, Beau Robinson (#3) for Extreme 2WD, and Stuart Zlotkowski (#803) for Extreme 4WD.
The Tatts Finke Desert Race commences with scrutineering on Friday afternoon at the Blatherskite Park Showgrounds, prologue on Saturday morning to determine the pole position, before the race kicks off on Sunday June 7 from at 7.30am in Alice Springs. Teams will work their way through the checkpoints at Deep Well, Rodinga, Bundooma and Mt Squires on their way to Finke, before returning to Alice Springs on the holiday Monday June 8 for the crowning of the 2015 Kings of the Desert.