Team Toyo knock the dust off the qualifying track.
Clean air – considered by many to be the deciding factor at The Finke. The best way to find that air, and run up front on race day? Qualify strong.
This morning Team Toyo lit up their Open Country rubber and attacked a damp and slippery eight kilometre prologue track. Positioned to start at the pointy ends of their classes the boys are looking hot for race day.
Sixth outright, Greg Gartner was the second fastest trophy truck out there. A thundering five minute 21 second lap puts the South Australian three seconds off leader Beau Robinson, time Greg intends to make up tomorrow morning.
“It was sketchy out there. A few wet spots that pushed you wide and some blue gravel making it really hooky. We were being conservative, probably running about 70 per cent,” said Gartner.
“We had a really good run bar two small offs. I got it on two wheels in the arena and had to run off the berm, so we lost a few seconds there”.
With the buggies faster in prologue, Greg says the playing field will be levelled by the rough race track terrain.
“I would say that it’s going to be very interesting, the trucks handle the whoops better, but turbo buggies are quicker on the flat bits. It will be Interesting to see the times and placing at the Finke end. The whoops seem bigger this year but the flats are flatter.”
Getting stuck behind a nasty rollover and almost having one himself, Danny Brown did well to place the #42 turbo buggy in 14th outright and eighth in class, with a five minute 29 second run.
“We hit a whoop a bit sideways and it flicked us off, massively,” he said.
“It’s going to be super, super rough. There is a lot of moisture in the ground, the trucks are going to love it. It should keep the dust down a bit too.”
Danny’s focus remains on getting to Finke intact.
“There’s only a few seconds in it. The main objective tomorrow is get down there, and race back. There is so much attrition on the way down so if we keep our heads screwed on we should be right,” he said.
The closest to a stock vehicle in the category and maybe the entire race, the Wheels BT-50 logged a seven minute 31 second circuit, placing them third in class. Driver Toby Hagon said the team showed they could mix it up in the class.
“The car feels great. The track is unbelievably rough, rougher than I thought it was going to be and I would imagine we are in more luxury than anyone in the field. We have dual-zone air conditioning,” he said.
“Tomorrow we’ll’ be pushing as hard we can push ourselves. Get into a rhythm and enjoy it where we can.”
Wheels team manager Robert Chadwick said the mid field position was exactly where the car should be for their survival agenda.
“The cars in great nick, the tyres in are great nick. Our agenda is to finish and the car behaved well on a greasy track,” he said.
Other racers on track were turning Toyo’s with great results. Running with Toyo Open Country M/T-R in Extreme 2WD, Finke Iron Man Billy Geddes followed Greg to a third in class. Mark Lacey ran the aggressive black and white Micklefab Raptor trophy truck to a tidy six minute flat time, putting on a show for spectators.
With all racers home, the spanners are out and the teams are prepping for race day one. Within striking distance in all classes, Team Toyo is looking tough.
Stay tuned for daily updates.