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“to promote a safe, fair and enjoyable family friendly series
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Brown and Apted's Sea Lake Victory
Monday, 12 June 2017
Ideal weather and track conditions made for a successful and exciting third round of the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series over the Queen’s Birthday June long weekend at Sea Lake in the Victorian Mallee. An impressive field of 104 entered, however with six withdrawals, 98 teams headed out on reconnaissance starters, and a fifty percent finishing rate with 49 teams going the full race distance of 400kilometres.

The down to the wire, gut wrenching finish, saw Danny Brown and George Apted #42 snatch victory and salute the checkered flag just 15 seconds ahead of New Zealand team Raana Horan and Klem Christiansen #89.

After leading for most of the event, Raana Horan and Klem Christiansen, in their recently purchased ex Jack Rhodes Jimco, had the Haeusler’s Mallee Rally ARB 400 victory within their grasp when, three corners from the finish line, Danny Brown and George Apted dove the #42 Jimco hard into the corner, edging passed Horan to claim his their Haeusler’s Mallee Rally ARB 400 title.

Brown and Horan started side by side with Brown winning the drag from the start line, pulling a 45 second lead over Horan at the end of the first lap. Come the end of lap two and into the pits for their compulsory one hour service break, Horan had taken the lead with a 46second gap back to Brown who had suffered tie rod failure just 2km from the end of the lap, having to limp to the finish line.

The now dejected Brown was ready to throw in the towel, however the crew were not giving up that quickly; fixing and servicing the #42 Jimco in the break and sending it back out on track to chase down Horan. Horan maintained his lead through lap three and all was on target for the New Zealander’s first Australian outright win.

Motorsport is a cruel beast and throughout the last lap the #89 Jimco was suffering from overheating alerts from the electronic management system. Horan and Christiansen pushed through as much as they could hoping to hold off a charging Brown. Brown and Apted themselves were not having a trouble free run with a lack of brakes in the final lap providing them with a hairy ride.

A new section of track this year saw the cars head into the main arena to a hair pin which then took them out of sight for 3km before heading back down the hill next to the spectator area into the main arena. As they entered the hair pin Horan was a few seconds ahead of Brown but charging hard going into the final 3kilometres. Going into the third to last corner, Brown drove the Jimco under Horan, making his way passed to snatch victory and take his first Mallee Rally title.

Danny Brown said when collecting his trophy “I felt bad when we passed Raana, but there was no way we weren’t going to give it everything we had. It was a win it, or bin, it move.”

It also came to light when looking at the outright trophy and the names of previous winners, that Danny Brown and Dad Andy have the rare honour of being the only father and son to have their names engraved on the Michael Bodinnar Memorial perpetual trophy.

After rolling in prologue, Aaron Haby came back fighting, slotting the Element Prodigy into third place rounding out the Haeusler’s Mallee Rally ARB 400 podium. Liz Haby navigated for the first two laps, however, illness prevented her from continuing; Andy Ryan, now in the pits after engine failure in the #50 Alumi Craft ended his weekend, jumped into the navigators seat to guide Aaron to the finish line.

Dale Martin has certainly inherited Dad Craig’s driving ability; the second generation offroader with Adrian Rowe in the navigators seat, driving his class 1 Nissan powered #101 Tatum into fourth outright and first in Class 1. Martin was leading the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series point score going into this round with the fourth outright this weekend making it three top four finishes for the 2017 series and cementing his place at the top of the leaderboard.

Fellow Class 1 competitors Luke Erceg and Daniel Ziembinski rounded out the Haeusler’s Mallee Rally ARB 400 top five, securing second in Class 1 behind Martin and kick starting their ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series points bank.

Photographer: Andrew Stott

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