2017 CAMS Australian Off Road Championship
St George - Apr 29-30    |    Finke - June 9-11    |    Rainbow - August 4-6                  

2017 ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series
Griffith - March 17-19     |     Mildura - April 21-23     |     Sea Lake - June 9-11     |     Waikerie - July 21-23     |     Goondiwindi - Aug 18-20     |     Millicent - Sept 22-23

Three Events, Three States, Three Weekends
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Monday, 22 May 2017
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As the Loveday Off Road team prepare for their biggest outing of the year, the Tatts Finke Desert Race, now is an ideal time to reflect on their mammoth effort over the last few weeks.

To sum it up – two Can-Ams, three events, three states, three consecutive weekends, two class wins, five out of six finishes – an outstanding achievement for the South Australian based father and son team of Tony and Toby Whateley.

Racing their new CanAm Mavericks X3’s, the first event in the trilogy was the ARB Sunraysia 400; 400km of rough off road racing through a damp course on Keera Station, the weekend of 22-23 April. Team drivers 19 year old Toby and Dad Tony Whateley secured 25th and 21st outright respectively, and third and second in class. A few minor issues throughout the weekend saw the team further down the timesheets than they had hoped, but none the less, still happy to chalk up finishes in what was the second event for Toby’s Maverick X3 and the maiden run for Tony’s #623 machine.

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Qualifying in 16th position, Toby with navigator Simon Herrmann, started his event surrounded by higher powered buggies and trucks, holding their own until a flat tyres 22km into lap one. As the lap count ticked over the #621 Can-Am worked their way through the field into seventh outright until lap five when belt failure saw the team stop and replace the belt. Back on track, and just 10km later, the spare belt let go. Now out of belts they waited for Tony and navigator Doug Carthew to come through, taking their spare belt and fitting it to get the #621 Can-Am back on track and eventually finishing third in class.

Tony’s ARB Sunraysia 400 was not without drama; belt failure at the 20km mark in lap one, dropping them down the order to rear of the field. Battling the mud and dust, they clawed their way passed the slower cars. After the service break, the started right behind a Pro buggy and while attempting to overtake, they received a ‘face full of mud’ and had to stop and clean their visors. After overtaking some of the backmarkers, the mud became an issue again, with the Can-Am overheating with the radiator full of mud. Luckily they were able to enter the pits through the half way entrance, and after a quick pressure clean of the radiator, were back on track chasing down the field to chalk up their first finish in the new Can-Am Maverick X3.

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A quick trip home to the Loveday 4X4 Adventure Park in the South Australian Riverland and straight to the workshop to prepare the Can-Am Maverick X3’s for the next event, the St George 399 in Queensland, the following weekend and the teams scheduled departure just three days away.

Each X3 would require some maintenance and as a precaution, the front diff assembly would need replacing on one, as would the clutch assembly on the other. However due to the short turnaround time, it was not possible to get the required parts before the team left for the 1800km trip to St George on the Wednesday. The solution was that fellow Can-Am competitor Michael Schneider would take the required parts to St George. After arriving in Queensland on Thursday and finalising the race preparation of the Can-Am Maverick X3’s, the Loveday Off Road team were ready for reconnaissance, scrutiny on Friday and the obligatory catch up with other competitors. Prologue was the first competitive order of business on Saturday with Toby clocking in an incredible run to secure second outright; some called is a surprising run, the team took a more positive approach and saw it as recognition and the reward for vehicle preparation, team work and the incredible natural driving ability of 19 year old Toby.

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The format for the St George 399 saw the field split into two groups by class, meaning Toby was on pole position for the first heat and Tony was in second. Toby clocked in a fast time for the first lap but then had to pit at the end of lap two for a quick tyre change. The pit crew sprang into action and had Toby and Simon back on track seconds before Tony came around to finish his lap. Both drivers drove faultlessly for the rest of the heat, setting themselves up for Sunday’s race.

Toby left the Sunday’s start line knowing he didn’t have to drive fast to hold his lead and Tony was happy to sit in second place, however, 10km in and Toby blew a drive belt. A quick belt change saw them back on track in fourth place and Tony in the lead, albeit for a short time. Belt issues stopped the #623 machine on lap two, and after replacing, had Tony and Doug back in the field in 10th place. Belts were not the only issue for Toby; he was lucky to escape unscathed after an encounter with three cows on the track. “That was the last thing we expected to see; I’m still not sure how we missed them, it was very close” Toby explained.

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The St George 399 time sheets show Toby finishing first in class and eighth outright and Tony sixth in class and 14th outright after the 400km of racing, and, after receiving their accolades, packing up camp; it was time to hit the road back to their workshop. A short 24 hours and 1800km later, the team and its cars were back in the Loveday workshop preparing for the next weekend’s event, the Richard Bennett Memorial Enduro, the second round of the South Australian Off Road Racing Association’s multiclub challenge. Toby was leading the SAORRA point score after his outright win at round one, the Loveday 250, which was also the debut drive of the Can-Am Maverick X3.

Following the St George event at the teams’ debrief it was determined that the upcoming Parilla event with its heavy sand track would be the ideal place to try to sort out their drive train issues. Tony’s task for the Parilla weekend was to research and find a solution to why the drive belts were failing. This could mean that he may not figure in the overall results.

Toby and Tony finished fifth and seventh respectively in the prologue for the Richard Bennett Memorial Enduro, setting themselves up for good run at Saturday’s first section, two laps of the 32km course through the Parilla landscape. The standout difference with this event, the start order for Sunday’s eight laps would be determined from your fastest lap on Saturday, plus a reverse handicapped start order. This unique format saw the first car leave the start line at 8:30 and Tony due to leave at 9:40 and Toby 6 minutes later at 9:46.

On lap four, Toby succumbed to belt issues, however this time the team took a different approach; they race in two-wheel drive for the remainder of the race. While the lap times were slower, the belts did hold together.

The plan paid dividends with the team now confident that they have found the issue, “Parilla with its deep and heavy sand track being the perfect place to load all the drive line components, in particular the drive belt, the fix has been found, and it was determined to be due to wear and tear. When servicing, we missed one important item that was causing the issue and we now believe that the X3 will be a very reliable race car,” explained Tony.

As well as looking for solutions to their drive line dramas, Tony, also took the opportunity to use the event as a test and tune, or see what we can break, exercise. “We put the Can-Am through its paces, trying different setups and solutions as research for Finke and future races. Toby was racing for points, so I pushed hard to find the boundaries and as a result we know how hard we can push at Finke” explained Tony.

With another class victory and ninth outright at Parilla, Toby has racked up; - Two class wins - a Third in class, - Two top ten outright finishes all in a three week period in three events in three states and over 1,150km of racing.

The team now has a valuable collection of data that will assist in their planning and preparation for their next challenge, the Tatts Finke Desert Race to be held over the June long weekend (9th – 12th) starting in Alice Springs on the Sunday with a 200k sprint to Finke and then returning to Alice on the Monday.

The Loveday Off Road Team is supported by Can-Am, SBH Engineering, Lightforce, North East Isuzu, ARB, Offroading online, Offroadracing.com.au