CHANGING weather conditions challenged the drivers at the second Hindmarsh Shire Rainbow Desert Enduro over the weekend.

The race was the third round of the CAMS BFGoodrich Australian Off Road Championship, round two of the CAMS Victorian Off Road Championship and round eight of the Victorian Off Road Club Shield.

With more than two millimetres of rain falling on Friday night, the track was extremely slippery during Saturday morning’s Prologue and Top Ten Shootout.

Saturday afternoon saw the drivers leave two at a time for the first two laps of the track.

During lap two the heavens opened once more, which saw spectators run for cover as the drivers tested out their skills on a slippery and muddy track. Another 2mm of rain fell during Saturday afternoon and night, which saw Sunday’s event start in slippery conditions before the sun shone, drying out the track in parts.

Competitors came from all over Australia to take part in the gruelling race, which covered nearly 600 kilometres. There were 45 teams entered in the race, with eight not finishing the race by the end of day two.

Victoria’s Shannon Rentsch and navigator Ian Rentsch, in car 33, took home the win in their Pro Buggy Jimco  Aussie Special Nissan 3500. The Rentsch’s won all three
CAMS Championship rounds in 2018.

“This has been the best year I’ve ever had,” Shannon Rentsch said after the race.

The Rentsch father and son duo showed their dominance throughout the weekend locking in the fastest times in the prologue, top ten shootout and Saturday’s two laps before taking out the win for the Rainbow Desert Enduro on Sunday.

Western Australia’s Beau Robinson and navigator Jake, in car 413, came in second in their Extreme 2WD Geiser Brothers TT Chev 6000.

Victoria’s Mark Burrows, Colin Hodge and Mathew Burrows, in car 21, came in third in their Pro Buggy Jimco MBR Holden 3500.

“We’ve had two wonderful days here to come in third and we’re extremely happy with
the result,” Mark Burrows said.

The drivers enjoyed the track, although the changing conditions made the race treacherous in parts.

Several said that in parts they were almost driving blind, as they couldn’t wipe the mud off their helmets quickly enough.

The drivers also gave praise to the organisers, including the Confederation of Australian
Motor Sport (CAMS), Victorian Off Road Racing Association (VORRA) and the local committee, for their hard work and dedication to be able to put together such a wonderful event again this year and many look forward to returning in 2019.

The catering at the site on Saturday and Sunday by local community groups was also given praise, as the groups provided a wide range of tasty foods, including baked potatoes, soup, hot roast rolls, hot dogs, hot chips, barbeque meats, bacon and egg sandwiches, jam donuts and coffee.

On Friday night the numbers in Federal Street swelled as people gathered to take in the scrutineering process, as the race cars lined the streets afterwards for interested people to take a closer look at the cars, before they were covered in mud. It was interesting to see the wide variety of cars that had entered the race from the big trophy trucks to the small one man vehicles.

Locals also lined up their classic cars for display, which many visitors and locals enjoyed viewing throughout the afternoon and evening.

The Turbo Gallery was open to the public with several local photographers having
their snaps on display from the 2017 event. Alison Ey was lucky enough to sell one of her
photos on the night.

A wide range of catering options were on offer to keep hungry throng fed that also included pizza as well as takeaway options being available at the 50’s Café and
Shell Service Station. The Eureka Hotel was also open for meals and drinks.
On Saturday and Sunday, the number of people at the GrainCorp Bow Hill site was
extraordinary with estimates of around 1,000 including officials.

On Sunday after the first cars flew across the finish line, the heavens opened up again, just as it did last year, with the trophy presentation narrowly missing the rain this year.

Local resident and CAMS volunteer Bronte Eckermann, 15, was given the honour of waving the chequered flag, as cars crossed the finish line.The full championship results were unavailable at the time of going to print.

Desert Enduro photographs supplied by Elissa Keller, Les Graetz and Alison Ey.