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Pickering Consolidates Australian Off Road Championship Lead for Mitsubishi at the Sunraysia 500 - (Australia)
July 24th, 2008
Mitsubishi's Australian off road racing team of Geoff Pickering and Mark Henderson took the fight right down to the wire in the battle of the 4x4 class at the recent Sunraysia 500 held near Mildura but victory wasn't to be for the Queensland based championship team this time around.
"This event has been a real challenge for us in recent years," said Geoff.
Last year the Mitsubishi team had a wheel come loose which forced their retirement, the first for many years. In 2008, no matter what they tried there were others around them who simply had a better run.
"Our Pajero V6 ran faultlessly as usual and the track was fantastic to start with. The shower of rain in the week before helped settle the dust for a while but by the end the track was starting to look like the Mildura event we all remember, very dry and dusty. When you think about it, we drive very hard over a long distance, about the same as Adelaide to Mildura. That takes around four and a half hours on a sealed road, we've just done the same but on a two wheel rutted track littered with bull dust holes!"
"We're focussed on the Championship and anyone who's serious about taking the title at the end of the season needs to drive to the conditions. If it means we have to settle for second place to secure the valuable points then that's the best course of action."
Pickering and Henderson paced themselves in the prologue, happy to start the event in second spot in the production class and sixth amongst the other 4x4's. Colin Hunter in his Jeep Grand Cherokee was an early casualty with a damaged wheel while David Jameson in his Suzuki Grand Vitara was setting the pace until an accident with a tree slowed his progress. Meanwhile a number of competitors, who were using the event as a shakedown for the forthcoming Australian Safari to be held at the end of August, were out to prove themselves against the multiple Australian Off Road Champion.
"We've come a long way with our Pajero over many years, driven thousands of kilometres, we know every trick to turn it into a winner but we also know where we can push hard to challenge and where to back off. At the end of the day it's the Championship title we are after for Mitsubishi. That's the result everyone remembers."
Outright winner in the 4x4 class was Clayton Chapman and Adam McGuire from Queensland driving a Mitsubishi Triton V6 who led home far more highly modified 4x4 vehicles to take the chequered flag.
The next round is the Pines Enduro near Millicent in South Australia during September.