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Element Shines at Gundy
Monday, 01 September 2014
After taking outright honours at the Albins ARB Goondiwindi 400 and cementing their lead in the 2014 ARB Off Road Racing Series, Carl Haby and Brenton Gallasch and the Element Off Road team recount their Gundy experience.

2633b_sm The lead up to the Albins ARB Goondiwindi 400 was one of cautious optimism. After having two Element cars getting to know the ins and outs of the course in 2013 with little success, they were of the opinion that the weather would play an integral part in the success of the event in general.

A predominantly clay track meant that any significant rain would affect the driveability of the majority of the course. “We watched from home in South Australia as an inch of rain fell in the weeks preceding the event” explained Rowan Eggers, team representative. “Not knowing the local weather patterns we were unsure if this pattern would continue with more rain falling in the area. All of our concerns were actually misguided as the conditions that greeted us at the event kept dust to a minimum and played an important role in securing our win.”

Arriving at Goondiwindi on Thursday afternoon the team were greeted with a very light shower of rain. This weather pattern was to hang around as a light drizzle and rare light showers were the norm right until Sunday morning.

The atmosphere of camping in the heart of Gundy was a welcome change to the remoteness of some events. An early arrival meant that the down time on Thursday night was spent enjoying a meal at the Royal Hotel, and afterwards at the front bar discussing, in increasing detail, some of the finer points of off road racing with fellow competitors until last drinks were called, a disappointment to all except the designated drivers. A sleep-in on Friday morning was definitely on the cards before the reconnaissance run; which enabled the team to see the track conditions in detail.

2633c_sm “A lack of dust and a slippery bear-run were the only signs of the weather that had us so concerned.” The smelly melon hole ponds that they experienced the previous year, and expected to be even deeper, were nowhere to be seen. The track had a feel that the melon hole edges were sharper than previously experienced, however this may have been a result of forgetting the severity of the track over time, and its inherent dangers.

Saturday’s prologue went as well as the Element team expected; taking 12th outright. “Approaching the event we were hoping to bag some points toward the ARB Off Road Racing Series; we weren’t there to go crazy, just to finish well, but more importantly to finish was our goal.”

The single lap on Saturday saw the Element Prodigy #56 start from 12th behind the relatively naked Gallard Truck and Dan Bonnor. “Both of these drivers are fast racers, and able to keep up a great pace, meaning that we could too. With Gallard having the fastest run of anyone on lap one, and Bonnor chasing him, meant that the track was dust free for us.”

The weather that had been so concerning played into their hands, with the moist air and lack of sunlight to dry things out. The end of Saturday’s lap one saw Carl and Brenton Gallasch slot the #56 Prodigy into third outright; an unexpected jump up in the ranks after feeling that the run was nothing out of the ordinary.

2633d_sm Sunday’s start from third was done with one eye on the mirrors. With Danny Brown immediately behind them after having suffered brake issues on Saturday’s lap, it wasn’t long before his headlights in the mirrors were replaced with the orange glow of his rear light disappearing away in front; the turbo powered vehicle was showing its abilities in top speed to round up all and sundry.

“Gallard was well away from us also and onto his second lap when a water pipe failure saw him retire back to pits.” Unfortunately for Michael and Karen Napier, a navigation issue at the start of lap two turned into a drama that cost them dearly, losing more than five minutes untangling his ride from fencing wire. “For us though, this meant that the only car on track in front of us was Brown, albeit nowhere to be seen.”

Completing Sunday’s first stage and after a 30 minute service break and the following compulsory parc fermé, they started the final stage from second place behind Brown, with Aaron James, Joe Bulmer and Dan Bonnor hot on their tail. An ARB Off Road Racing Series points grab was still the goal, but a green light always brings the inevitable desire to do well.

2633e_sm By now the sun was emerging with the heat and dust increasing. With no chance of rounding up Brown it was a case of putting down consistent lap times and concentrating on avoiding trouble. Watching the mirrors and seeing glimpses of cars behind him pushed Haby and Gallasch on harder and then, midway into the final lap a limping Brown was out front in his sights.

After passing Brown and via radio letting them know of no immediate danger of smoke or oil fires, the race was now the Element teams’ to lose. The pedal stayed firmly down with the Jandal meter registering high. The final ride down Malapunyah run started with an unsettling twitch early, but regathering his ride, Haby finished in style, easily gliding over the melon holes and rounding out the final bend to cross the line.

An unfortunate engine issue saw Aaron and Tanner James #93 settle in to second place after their last lap, resulting in a first place for the #56 Element prodigy crewed by Carl Haby and Brenton Gallash, ahead of a fast paced Dan Bonnor and Shawn Teagle in the #954 GET Performance buggy in third.

Carl Haby and Element Off Road would like to thank Griffith Off Road Club members Andy and Bobbie Ryan, for their amazing hospitality during their journey across our wide country, team members Wayne Tabe, Brenton Gallasch, Michael Wiebrecht and Rowan Eggers for assisting throughout the journey, and major sponsors, Mickey Thompson Tyres, Elders Insurance, Mannum Auto Centre, Racer Imports, Bowhill Engineering, Tough-As Work Mats and CAPA Performance for their continuing support.

Source: Element Off Road
Photographer: Darryl Smith

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