It’s been a while since we last heard from Owen Ward at Rough Rider Racing (nothing since autocorrectgate and the Griffith 400 write-up), but here’s his take on the ARB Off-Road Racing Series Goondiwindi round.
Goondiwindi started out for us great. We got to town on Friday and went straight to the track to check out what we were in for. The track was fantastic. Despite the big rain in the lead up to the event the majority of the track was dry and the famous “Mellon holes” were empty. There was one new addition down at the end of the Malapunyah run being a new jump that kind of had people scratching their heads as it was in a rather hairy spot. This ended up catching more than a few off-guard providing a few pucker moments. Friday afternoon we caught up with Michael Zacka from King Shocks Australia at a workshop in town and had a play with the shocks and changed our springs. It’s great having the backing of the number one name in suspension. Friday night was back at the showgrounds where we passed scrutineering with flying colours. We parked up for the night on display with Mickey Thompson flags waving in the wind. We got to pass out some promotional gear to the public that came to check out all the cool machinery that invaded their town. It was good to talk with everyone that came by to say g’day.
Saturday morning was the start of prologue. We took off from the start line like we never have before. Our launch and pull through first and second has sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo improved thanks to the ANIMAL new auto built for us by the amazing folks at WholeSale Automatic Transmissions. It seemed like we had 50 more horse power. Half way through prologue we suffered brake failure due to a faulty master cylinder and was forced to apply for seeding. Cam Richie from Racer Imports was quick to come running with a new master cylinder for us and we quickly got it fitted just in time for Lap 1.
Now with the brakes fixed we took off for Lap 1. The Mickey Thompson Tires were getting up to temp and taking to the harsh terrain like a duck to water. Holding firm when we threw the truck sideways and demanded as much performance from them as we could get. After braking hard through a corner the brakes locked on solid. Kevie Nott my navigator was quick to get out and get it sorted by cracking each bleeder screw and freeing up the brakes. This happened twice during our first lap. Come to find out it cost us nearly 20 minutes.
Sunday morning having bled all the air now out of the brakes and adjusted them properly we set out. Being back so far in the field we were at quite a deficit and had a lot of ground to make up. We were setting a blistering pace. We were having the time of our lives. The truck was working better than it ever has. The Uni Filters were staying clean and giving the motor ample fresh air to breathe. The suspension was so soft and enabled us to push harder through the rough areas and helped us gain more and more ground. We were over taking cars left right and centre. We were even smiling and laughing going through the infamous bear country which is like hell on earth. When we came to the end of Lap 1 I said to Kev, “I’m gonna leave that jump at the end up to you. If you’re feeling it we will hit it. If not we will just roll over the top.” I planted my foot and held it pretty much flat. The adrenaline took over as we went nearly as fast as the truck could go. Soaking up some of the bumps and flying off others at well in excess of 100km/h the car was working like a dream. We were having a blast. This is without a doubt the best feeling in motorsport. Kev didn’t say no so when we got to the last jump I punched it and hoped for the best. It was a large jump with a whoop right where we land and only 100-ish meters till the corner. We landed well and the rear soaked up most of the hit and only bounced back slightly then jumped straight on the brakes. We overshot the corner slightly but didn’t lose much time getting back on track.
About ¾ through the 3rd lap of the race (2nd on Sunday) we went around a sweeping bend drifting and on pace and without warning the engine self-destructed and it was all over for us. It was such a kick in the guts. We both felt sick to the stomach. We were feeling as if we were driving with the pace to have made up all our ground and taken out a class win. We sat in the truck, head in hands wondering where it all went wrong. Absolutely gutted. All temps and pressures were normal just before it went bang so it leaves us scratching our heads looking for an explanation.
Now that were back in Melbourne and we’ve got the sump off the engine we found that the back 2 pistons had totally smashed to bits. They are in pieces no bigger than a marble or gum ball and holes in the bore which let all the water into the sump. Still no idea as to why just yet. We have a standard 6L replacement to get us through the rest of the season and plan to build a proper race motor at the end of the season for next year. This has been a very bad year for us and a hard pill to swallow given our success last season but I guess that’s motorsport. The issues we’ve had for the most part have been things that we just could not plan for or could ever have known to prevent. Just one of those things I guess. Anyhow time to lick our wounds, fix the truck and get back on track for the Pines in Millicent and just go out there and have some fun.
Thanks for your continued support of Rough Rider Racing.
Rough Rider Racing
Rough Rider Racing races on Mickey Thompson MTZs. If you’re thinking about new boots for your rig, give us a call on 1300 MICKEY and we’ll find the shoe that fits!