Former Kempsey resident Eric Hume was in disbelief after he completed the prestigious Finke Desert Race.
The 28-year-old navigated for driver Josh Howells and the two finished in second place outright, after completing the grueling 452km round trip in a time of three hours, 51 minutes and 51 seconds.
"It was the most unreal feeling. It was totally unexpected to finish on the podium," Eric told the Argus.
"We started the second leg from Finke to Alice Springs in fourth place and because of the conditions, we didn't know we had passed anyone so to hear we moved into second was amazing.
"We were a bit fortunate as two of the cars in front of us broke down.
"The result was very much deserved though. It was a big effort from the whole team to get the car ready, not just myself and Josh."
Eric has been navigating for the past decade but this marked his first Finke Desert Race after he partnered up with Josh at the start of the year.
Josh had competed at the event on two previous occasions, earning a best result of sixth outright.
The two bested 153 other competitors at the Finke Desert Race, which is recognised as Australia's best desert race.
The race attracts people from across Australia and internationally.
Eric, who grew up in Kempsey before moving to the Hunter Region for work two years ago, said the track poses many threats to competitors.
"The conditions are challenging. It's very dusty, which makes it very difficult to overtake, and sometimes it becomes impossible to see and you have to stop," Eric said.
"The logistics make it difficult too. Once you're about 10km out of Alice Springs you lose reception so it's hard to get help if you need it."
The former Melville High School student completed the first leg of Alice Springs to Finke in fourth place with a time of one hour, 54 minutes and 48 seconds. They completed the return leg in one hour, 57 minutes and two seconds.
They finished more than eight minutes ahead of the third place finisher but were nine minutes behind first place.
Eric has a long list of accolades in the sport, which includes claiming victory at the Dondingalong event in the past but he settled for third place with Josh earlier this year.
The pair also competed at the Australian Off-road Racing event held at St George in South East Queensland in May and finished in sixth outright.
The duo encountered a mishap on the first day of racing but recovered well.
Eric thanked locals David and Michael Spokes for helping him get involved in off-road racing at a young age.
"I lived next to the old Temagog track growing up, I had a real interest in the sport and they helped me get into it," he said.
Eric and Josh will continue to compete at off-road racing event together.
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