SPOUSES Scott and Michelle McNeil have taken an exciting victory in the ‘Dondingalong Off Road Challenge’ held over the weekend.
The event - Round 6 of the NSW Off Road Championship and Round 2 of the East Coast Tri Challenge Series - attracted a strong 35 car field.
Dusty conditions during the first two Rounds of heats on Saturday tested everyone in the field,
However, the McNeil spouses team held a slender six-second lead at that point.
They maintained that margin through the first two rounds of competition on Sunday, despite intense pressure from the Chris and Len Levi Super 1650 Buggy.
As it transpired, the final finishing positions in the race would not be determined until the last four-lap heat on Sunday afternoon.
The McNeil and Levi Buggies were on the front row, with the former winning the drag race to the first turn.
A rare driving error by Scott McNeil soon after saw him veer off course, allowing Chris Levi to drive past and establish a mini-break.
As both cars took the penultimate-lap board, Levi had established a seven-second break and looked in a strong position to take outright victory.
The McNeils had other ideas however, fighting hard with less than a kilometre remaining to pull back the Levi machine and go on to a stunning one-and-a-half second victory.
Third outright went to the spectacular Danny Reidy / Ben Finemore combination in their Extreme 2WD Pickup.
The Queensland team were real crowdpleasers, with Reidy driving on the absolute limit, but always under control, for the entire event.
Fourth outright went to the Warialda team of Derek Rose / Bree Mann in their Super 1650 Buggy, with the finish position extending Rose’s lead in the NSW Championship.
David Jobe from Queensland was the top Pro Buggy finisher in fifth place.
It was Jobe’s first visit to the Dondingalong track, and he was suitably impressed with the facility and the competition.
Rounding out the top 10 were Kristy Hedley / Ben Osland (424 Extreme 2WD), Mark Sankey (111 Prolite), Murray Bignell (996 Pro Buggy), Wayne Murphy / Chris Taylor (666 Utility Terrain Vehicle), and Mark Cowie / Brett Blackshaw (247 Super 1650).
The Pro Buggy teams of Justin Guy / Danny Richardson (19), Geoff Page / Chantall O’Dell (983), Peter Skaza / Greg Skaza (83) and Malcolm Bird / Leona Bird (66) had all been in contention for the outright victory at various stages.
Guy and Richardson, the Dondingalong winners the past two years, snapped an axle, while the Skaza team exited in spectacular fashion with major engine damage causing a quickly extinguished fire.
Page / O’Dell had topped the prologue on Saturday, but were late to the starting line for a Sunday heat with a car issue, meaning they could not contest the full distance of the race
The car was later parked with a mechanical issue.
The Bird team, from Dubbo, looked strong early, but had to settle for 11th position.
Several Kempsey Macleay Off Road Club Members had a difficult weekend.]
David Spokes / Glen Hayes (46 Pro Buggy) sustained engine damage in their first race on Saturday, while Matt Morgan (92 Pro Buggy) stopped with a cv issue on Saturday, but was back racing on Sunday.
Troy Campbell / Stephen Sullivan (251 Super 1650) crunched the guard rail on the front straight with the resulting damage forcing them out of the race on Sunday afternoon.
The Dondingalong circuit has been operating for almost 30 years and in that long period of time a sub-two-minute lap has never been recorded.
That all changed at this event however, with Guy / Richardson setting a new record of 1 minute 59.11 seconds.
The Skaza team got into the act in the next round, recording two sub-two-minute laps, but they were unable to betterthe time set by Guy and Richardson.
Despite extreme dust on Saturday, Kempsey Macleay Off Road Club Officials were very pleased with the weekend's racing overall.
For more information on the 2012 Dondingalong Off Road Challenge visit kempseyoffroadracing.net
Results : 2012 Dondingalong Off Road Challenge
1. #122 Scott McNeil / Michelle McNeil 43:33.55
2. #210 Chris Levi / Len Levi 43:34.99
3. #415 Danny Reidy / Ben Finemore 44:03.88
1. #914 David Jobe 44:22.96
2. #996 Murray Bignell 44:47.66
3. #66 Malcolm Bird / Leona Bird 45:21.76
1. #122 Scott McNeil / Michelle McNeil 43:33.55
2. #111 Mark Sankey 44:44.39
3. #137 Len Barron 47:51.07
SUPER 1650 BUGGY
1. #210 Chris Levi / Len Levi 43:34.99
2. #279 Derek Rose / Bree Mann 44:20.09
3. #247 Mark Cowie / Brett Blackshaw 45:20.53
1. #366 Billy Standing / Traci Standing 46:04.98
2. #322 Jarrad Eveleigh / Colin Braham 46:48.97
3. #335 Gary Hyde / Gary Sutherland 49:06.01
1. #415 Danny Reidy / Ben Finemore 44:03.88
2. #424 Kristy Hedley / Ben Osland 44:42.03
3. #405 Paul Grant / Fay Grant 47:50.01
1. #502 Ashley Weinert / Chris Hardie 46:02.90
2. #504 Jan Hedley / Daniel Gardner 47:22.11
UTILITY TERRAIN VEHICLE
1. #666 Wayne Murphy / Chris Taylor 45:15.15
2. #688 Michael Smith / Michael Sales 48:37.03
1. #777 Drew Corcoran / Nick Gay 31:52.40