Round 1 of the Aust4 Racing series has just wrapped up at the beautiful Janowen Hills 4×4 Park, about two hours South West of Brisbane. For the uninitiated (me included) Aust4 is a newly developed concept of off road racing, designed to bring a safer and faster style of racing to those traditionally involved in rock crawling. The 2017 Aust4 Racing Series will be held over three rounds and will incorporate five classes of racing including: Ultra 4, Ultra 4 Unlimited, Modified, Stock and UTV classes and provides plenty of good racing and entertainment for spectators.
The event got underway on Friday afternoon with a qualifying race to determine the starting order for the following days racing. A shorter loop was setup up that included some fast paddock sections, rocky creek beds and winding sections through scrub, using some of the great natural terrain tracks within the park.
Young Mitch Thorpe #127 set a blistering pace in the Ultra4’s qualifying fastest with a time of 7:03:63, thirty seconds clear of his nearest rival Mitch Gregory in the Autobarn Ultra4. The elder statesman of the Thorpe Motorsport Team lead home the Ultra4 Limited class ahead of Kerrod Wilson and Brad Rooks. In the modified class, it was Duane Deans #577 quickest with a 07:18:46 lap, ahead of Kevin Tapp in the aptly named Death Trap, with Jason Bremmell qualifying in third. There were ample UTV’s entered for the first round and it was Jayden Richardson #444 Polaris RZR 1000 who stopped the clock at 06:51:20 and would lead off first on Saturday morning.
There was plenty of interest early on Saturday morning with the late arrival overnight of Michael Hayes and the very impressive (and quick) #777 Superior Engineering Ultra4. What the day would bring, only time would tell. Another vehicle gathering considerable attention was Duane Deans #577 Nissan Patrol, powered by a twin turbo Lexus engine.
Competitors were faced with two heats of two tortuous hours of racing and the winners would be the ones that clocked up the most laps over the four hours. First up on track for Heat 1 were the Ultra4’s and Ultra 4 Limited. Starting off the line two at a time, side by side, produced some great racing and spectating up through the quarry section and out across the paddocks and beyond. Heat 1 saw Ultra4 competitor Michael Hayes put down some impressive laps, by taking advantage of the other competitors who had chosen to get their joker lap out of the road early and finished first ahead of Mitchell Gregory, who with Brett Thorpe were the only others to complete four laps.
In the modified class it was Kevin Tapp who completed five laps ahead of Duane Deans and Jason Bremmel who finished with four laps each, for their two gruelling hours of racing. The first three finishes in the UTV class were all very close, but it was Brendan Lohse #59 in the Bridgestone Racing Polaris across the line just ahead of Jayden Richardson #444 and Peter Broom #50, setting the stage for an exciting Heat 2.
After a break for lunch and no doubt some minor repairs, racing got back underway for Heat 2. Michael Hayes in the #777 Superior Engineering Ultra4 surrendered his lead after 2 laps suffering from mechanical problems. This left Mitch Gregory to take the heat win ahead of Bruce Parker #262. Whilst we were up at the waterfall, Marc Intervera #721 had a roll over and managed to quickly self-recover with some great winch work.
Next it was the turn of the modified class and the very popular UTV’s to hit the track. Daniel Cole #825 was the first of the modified class home, six minutes ahead of Jason Bremell and Kevin Tapp, who had dropped around twenty minutes on the second lap of the heat. Marshall Bell started putting in some very good laps in his Polaris to take the heat win just ahead of Jayden Richardson and Kane Hope. No doubt all the UTV racers would have been glad to see the checkered flag after a very challenging day.
As night began to fall, Ben English and his team began to collate the times for the day to determine who would be the round winners.
1: # 94 Mitch Gregory (MRG Motorsports)
2: # 262 Bruce Fraser (All Metal Magic)
3: # 777 Michael Hayes (Superior Engineering)
Ultra 4 Limited
1: #27 Brett Thorpe (Thorpe Motorsport)
2: # Matt Jillett (Anything Mechanical Motorsports)
3: Remy Lowson (Remson Offroad)
1: # 892 Kevin Tapp (Vitag Racing)
2: # 101 Jason Bremmell (NFI Motorsports)
3: # 825 Daniel Cole (Cole Motorsports)
1: # 808 Marshall Bell (Abuse Offroad)
2: # 444 Jayden Richardson (JKS Motorsport)
3: # Kane Hope (Tornado Racing)
This was my first time photographing an Aust4 event and I’m hooked. Can’t wait for the next round.
The next round will be held at Janowen Hills 4×4 Park from the 2 to 4 June 2017.