The last round of the Victorian State Championship was set for Bendigo. The venue is a place called Bagshot which is about 20km north of the Gold Mining city. The track is a mix of sand and clay, the type of surface that’s like racing on tarmac when dry and an ice rink when wet. The crazy thing is that we split gum trees while travelling up to 130kmh, with just enough room to get through the gaps.
The track distance is 5.5 kms and the format of the event was to have a Prologue of 3 kms, 2 Sessions of 10 laps and a Final Session of 5 laps. A total race distance of approx 130kms.
The funny thing about Bendigo is, it’s either stinking hot which makes the track a super dust bowl or the rain comes and turns it into a mud bath for all, but hey….this is Off Road Racing, so what ever comes is whatever you work with. As one of the Team said, “Andy, build a bridge”.
So you guessed it, the rain poured down the night before and saturated the track, flooding corners and creating killer bog holes that suck you in and spit you out.....awesome fun.
We really haven’t done a lot of racing at Bagshot so what the ground was like to drive is always a bit of a surprise. So in terms of really having a go, we felt our way around the 3km Prologue Track, qualifying 8th outright. In line with the season we have had, middle to upper of the pack was where we needed to be, all in all not bad.
It was time to put the pedal to the metal and get out there and give it a shake. In terms of strategy I was saying to Karen my Navigator we should work into the race and let it come to us. Last time we raced at Bagshot, we hit a tree on the second lap at 80kmh and bent the truck. So this time I was working on letting the race come to us. We knew for sure with no morning rain the track would get faster as it dried out. And in the process we would be able to use the 4WD to our advantage, as the track started to grip up. The worse the conditions the better it would be for us.
We launched off the line and were feeling our way around the track, getting a sense of where we could make time up and where we needed to pull our heads in. Keeping the flow smooth and using the throttle to rear wheel steer, we were able to make up some ground on the competitors in front. We found the line, used the camber and banking as a berm and just kept the momentum in the Patrol.
As the sludge started to clear we stepped it up another couple of notches picking up 3 cars and finishing Race 1 in 5th spot. Seemed the plan was coming together.