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Loveday Day 1 ... Whateley, Turnbull, Nissen
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Saturday, 27 June 2020
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Photographer: Brett Lehmann

South Australian off roaders are tonight sitting around the campfire, camping under the stars at the first South Australian off road event run in the Covid-19 era.

Event promoter Tony Whateley said “it’s been a mammoth administration effort by our team to get this event up and running in such a short timeframe. As restrictions in South Australia started to ease, we set a date and hoped that the state would remain on target, and that we’d be able to get back to racing.”

A field of 30 offroaders converged on the Loveday 4X4 Park, with most arriving on Friday, making the most of finally getting a weekend of racing. With Covid-19 requirements including self scrutiny and electronic documentation and briefing, Friday night had a different look and feel to the normal scrutiny and documentation. But as has been said many times this weekend, this is the new normal and we need to adapt, and adapt they did.

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However, once the helmets were donned, the belts buckled and the keys turned, the familiar rumble of off road machines on the prologue lineup grid bought a smirk to many a face. Toby Whateley and Simon Hermann #621 topped the prologue time sheets in the debut drive of his new 2020 Can-Am Maverick X3, delivered and race prepared in January for a full race season, only now taking to the track. 1.210 seconds behind Toby was Dad Tony Whateley and Jodie Veron in Tony’s debut drive of the team’s new Rush Truck #421.

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Rounding out the prologue top three was Loveday regular Aaron Haby with wife Liz and daughter Chelsea sharing the navigating duties of the Element Prodigy #57.

The bitterly cold dawn turned into a spectacular winters day with the Loveday racetrack in near perfect race condition for the two one-lap sections today.

Toby Whateley led the field for the first of the 40km laps however belt issues saw them stopped trackside handing the lead to Aaron and Chelsea Haby. Garry Turnbull and daughter Tamara drove their Jimco Aussie Special #79 into second place for the section just 4.709seconds off the pace of Haby. Tony Whateley and Jodie Veron dropped a positon from their prologue to third place round out the first section top three. Daryl Nissen and Andrew Harness #164 slotted into fourth place with Matt Curtis and Brad Traynor #136 into fifth. Hayden Bentley with Hannah and Sam in the navigator seat of the #418 Racer Trophy Truck sat in sixth place 5.546seconds off the pace of Curtis.

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David Hall #134 clocked in in seventh with Brett Rogers #95 in eighth ahead of Roydn Bailey #2 in ninth and Chris and Colin Johnson #122 rounding out the top ten.

Section 2, another one lap of the 40km course, saw the demise of Aaron Haby; rocka arm failure seeing the #57 machine unable to greet the starter. Tony Whateley moved up the timesheets to win the section and sit in first place for the outright. Tony said “I was a bit cautious on the first lap and am really going to see what it can do tomorrow”. Matt Curtis #136 was 6seconds off the pace of Whateley with Daryl Nissen #164 back in third for the section. Garry Turnbull’s #79 lap time was slower than his first relegating him back to fourth place with Hayden Bentley #418 rounding out the top five.

Outright positions at the overnight break are Tony Whateley #421 leading the field with Garry Turnbull #79 in second place, Daryl Nissen #164 in third, Matt Curtis #136 in fourth and Hayden Bentley #418 in fifth place.

25 starters are confirmed for the remaining 200km of the Ronco Motors Loveday 280. Stay up to date with live results via offroadracing.coma.u

DNF’s for Saturday racing were
Aaron Haby #57 - Rocka Arm
Connor Smith #415 - Gearbox
Trent Gravetock #535 - transmission
Cooper Johns #282 - clutch (debut drive)
Rod Holmes #806 – electrical (new car debut drive)