Cochranes Transport Mid West Challenge – Race Report

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Round 4 of the 2017 CAMS, Carnarvon Motel WAORC has been run and won, with excitement from start to finish a hallmark of this incredibly tough event. Friday night and early Saturday morning would see scrutineering with the field of over 30 cars ready to be put through their paces. Light rain made way for clear skies and as the competitors finished their reconnaissance runs it became apparent that the sandy track which wound through the mid west valleys was going to live up to its name in being a challenge. All eyes were on the battle between the current points leaders, Jared Percival and Mal Yeardley as they continued to duke it out for the WAORC honours

Prologue saw a unique format by starting in seed order, rather than the traditional class based system.  Darren Agrela in his #39 Jimco would clock the fastest time, scorching his way around the track to beat Harleigh Uren by 1.4 seconds. Third was Nathaniel Edwards with Stephen Hall and Colin Doney rounding out the top 5. The class leaders after prologue were; Pro Buggy – Darren Agrela, Prolite – Nathaniel Edwards, Extreme 2wd – Colin Doney, Performance 2wd – Mathew Beck, Production 4wd – Graeme Bentink, Extreme 4wd – Mark Murray & Superlite – Chris Unstead

Saturday afternoon would see the field take on 2 laps of the 33km course. Agrela lead the field away, but his lead would be shortlived after succumbing to hub issues. Uren took over the lead and pulled a small gap over the now second placed Edwards. Mark Cramer charged hard through the field to move up into 3rd outright with young gun Steve Hall slotting into 4th. Unfortunately his race would be over after discovering terminal damage at the finish of the section. Mal Yeardley made a strong start to the event, revelling in the sandy conditions to put himself in a strong position to bank championship points in his battle with Jared Percival who was an uncharacteristic 7th. Darryl Hardman assumed the lead in Extreme 2wd, whilst Mark Murray’s turbo diesel patrol was making light work of the sandy conditions. Graeme Bentink maintained his Production 4wd lead whilst Ashley Sudholz moved into the Superlite lead after Chris Unstead punctured a tyre. Charlie Edwards lead the Super 1650 class, whilst Mathew Beck in the WA Off Road Junior Development car put in a huge effort to be quickest Performance 2wd

Day 2 would see clear skies and perfect conditions for racing. The sandy terrain ensured no dust, however on the flip side created ever-changing conditions which put the competitors through their paces. Uren & Edwards continued their battle and by the end of the section the #77 machine had created a 52 second lead with just 2 laps left to run. Cramer again clocked in 3rd quickest whilst Brad Cooper rocketed his way to 4th quickest. In what could be a championship changing moment, Mal Yeardley rolled his Westside Insurance Specialists Prolite. After getting the #171 back onto all 4 wheels, Yeardley drove hard to minimize the lost time, but dropped back through the pack and handing a significant advantage to his championship rival Jared Percival. Mark Murray and Graeme Bentink continued the diesel domination of the 4wd classes, whilst Chris Unstead clocked in quickest in the Superlite class. Karl Richardson was the quickest Extreme 2wd whilst Mathew Beck continued to lead Performance 2wd

The final 2 laps of the Mid West Challenge would throw up many twists and turns. Uren held a slender lead which quickly dissipated as engine gremlins meant that he would have to drive conservatively in order to make it to the finish. Nathaniel Edwards took full advantage, blasting his way into the lead on road and to his first ever WAORC outright victory. Uren slipped to 4th on road, but managed a quick enough time to hang on to 2nd outright. Mark Cramer was pressured by Brad Cooper all the way, but completed the podium in his Southern Cross Pro Buggy. Mark Jarret was a strong 5th outright and 2nd in class. In another twist for the championship points race, Jared Percival bogged his prolite, losing significant time. This allowed Mal Yeardley to leapfrog him into 6th outright. With the track chopping up and only 12 competitors completing the full race distance, the class winners were; Pro Buggy – Harleigh Uren, Prolite – Nathaniel Edwards, Performance 2wd – Mathew Beck, Production 4wd – Graeme Bentink Extreme 4wd – Daniel Fahey & Superlite – Ashley Sudholz. Results can be found here

The brand new venue for the Cochranes Transport, Mid West Challenge threw up some spectacular racing and the mountains of work which the volunteers from WAORRA put in prior to the event certainly paid off. Thanks must go to the property owners, event organisers and sponsors.  Next up is the 5th round of the 2017 CAMS, Carnarvon Motel WAORC to be held at Three Springs. This event is a competitor and fan favorite and one to certainly mark on the calendar