Kyle McBride (Buggy), Mike Truhe (Truggy) and Matt Griffin (EP Buggy) are the 2013 Pro-Line Thunder Down Under champions after an enthralling final day’s racing on the world class Meakin Park Raceway. The day capped a brilliant weekend of 8th off-road action at what is Australia’s biggest non-championship event for 2013.
Just as we suspected, Matt Griffin (Mugen) was too good for the A final field today. He cleared out early in A1 and wasn’t headed, leading home Jason Dyckhoff (Team Associated) and GCRC’s Martin Moolman (Team Associated).
In A2 a determined Dyckhoff pushed the issue early, getting to the lead momentarily before Griffin reasserted himself and sprinted away – aided by Jason’s retirement soon after. That left Tekno’s Darren Lord to take up the running, Moolman again third.
Griffin having wrapped up the title, and preparing for the Nitro Buggy A final decided to sit out A3. Dyckhoff took advantage in the end, but not before we saw an entertaining race that had no fewer than four cars take a run up front. Lord finished second to ensure he would complete the podium, Moolman once again third (and thereby fourth overall).
Griffin is committed to the class, sure (like me) that it’s days are coming in Australia. The pace, simplicity and (relative) reliability make it a more interesting proposition day by day. With the Truggy class seemingly on the wane in many parts of Australia, it might be that we are just about to reach the tipping point. Time will tell, but I’m an unashamed fan of EP8 Buggy racing, so I sure hope it flies.
A pair of entertaining C and B final races earlier in the day set the scene for a great 45 minute truck final. Highlight was Dean Chilcott managing to scrap and scrape his way around with just three shocks in action, and still holding on to a bump-up position in his C final.
The whole shape of that final was set early, with Kyle McBride skipping away out front trying to overcome his one fuel-stop disadvantage. Not long in however, and McBride’s front left tyre started to peel away. His pace didn’t suffer too much, but with the tyre looking like it would continue deteriorating, pit-man Scott took the decision to replace it at Kyle’s third pit stop. That put Mike Truhe and Adam Drake out front and Kyle under the pump. Those two went at it, occasionally holding each other up and at one stage looking like letting McBride out of jail. Truhe it was who settled first, put his head down and went for the line, a consistent and mistake free last 10 minutes enough to hold off McBride while Drake slipped to third. Aaron Stringer was a little stuck in no-man’s land in 4th with Kristian Lohse a delighted and popular fifth.
Technically all classes are equal, but some are more equal than others. Buggy was definitely the premier class of this event, packing the biggest and best field.
Five drivers bumped in from the B final, including Chris Sturdy who drove admirably after losing a rear wing around half race distance – a nice job of managing a less than ideal situation.
Aaron Stringer nailed a great start and slipped past Adam Drake on lap one, while Truhe took over the front running thanks to an early mistake from McBride who buried himself back in the field. While Kyle started his recovery, a Truhe error on lap 6 opened the opportunity for Stringer, who took it with both hands and bolted – while at the same time Truhe, Drake and McBride broke clear of the field and set out after him.
Kyle’s pace was irresistible and in a very rapid exchange around the time of his first pit stop, he took over the front running, put his head down and made a break. By the 27 minute mark he led Truhe by 16 seconds, but when Mike suffered an engine cut just as he was due in pit lane for fuel, the lead blew out to almost a full lap over Stringer and Drake. And that, pretty much, was the end of that. Kyle controlled things beautifully and even an extra pit stop wouldn’t be enough to put a dent in his performance – the final margin 1 1/2 laps to Adam Drake, Stringer a brilliant third while Matt Griffin pushed hard all the way, falling just six seconds shy at the finish but holding off Truhe by a further 2 seconds.
A fun weekend of racing in a relatively relaxed format, and in the end we all got the fight we came to see – Drake and Truhe against Australia’s best. And on this occasion, at least in the Buggy class, McBride was utterly dominant. It’s a result that will delight the Queensland youngster, and once again raise the question of what he could be with more time and experience internationally.
Adam Drake and Mike Truhe were consummate professionals. Whether on track, in the pits preparing race cars, or interacting with all sorts of people who wanted to say hi and chat a little, the pair were a delight to have at Logan. We can only hope that Pro-Line and TLR see fit to support a return visit in 2014.
The Logan crew did a great job of building a world class track. With the local council present over the weekend, and duly impressed, perhaps they’ll get the help they need to further expand the track and develop the pit facilities as well. The track was definitely a technical challenge, and did make for some tricky racing, with particularly the mortals among us struggling to run cleanly. Getting that balance right is always a challenge in off-road track design.
Scott McBride and Mark Stringer are to be congratulated for the foresight and drive to get the event together. I hear they’re already talking about “what next”, so it might just be a matter of staying in touch to listen for news.
As for me, I enjoyed the weekend. It’s always a pleasure to watch world class drivers do their thing, and the bonus opportunity to see James Dargue and his 3d heli flying was sensational. In hindsight I wish I had run EP Buggy alongside commentary – but that’s a lesson learned for next time!
Last word? We’ll hand over to the Channel Nine news coverage of the event. Sure it’s full of factual errors (World Championships? Kyle McCloud?) but it’s a great news piece that raises the profile of the sport and that’s actually been the purpose of this whole weekend.
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Where we will be this week:
- Gold Coast Indoor - Wed 4th 11am till 4pm
- Bayside Onroad - Wednesday 4th 5pm till about 9
- Gold Coast Friday 6th 10am for the AE practice
- Gold Coast Saturday 7th for the AE event
- Bayside Saturday late evening for the Bayside Cup Finals
We are competing at the AE event at the GCRC so attendance at Bayside will be dependant on what time that finishes.