The South Australian crew of Greg Gartner and Jamie Jennings have made Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race history by taking victory in an Extreme 2WD truck, displacing the normal supremacy of the Pro Buggies in Australia’s largest and most prestigious off-road event.
Gartner/Gallard in the #410 Ford 150, completed the gruelling 452-kilometre two-day event in a total time of 3 hours 51minutes and 45 seconds, to take the victory from the second placed crew Andrew Kittle/Matthew Kittle in the #14 Jimco Toyota buggy with a time of 3:58.25.
Third place at the Alice Springs finish was the local crew of Greg Hicks/Shane Braitling in the #123 Southern Cross Toyota 70-seconds further back.
The winning time for this year’s race was 11 minutes slower than last year set by David Fellows/Mark Bergamin. It was a far tougher event this year for the defending champions as the #1 Jimco Toyota broke a drive shaft on Day 1. However, that did not prevent them from achieving an outstanding run home today setting a blistering Leg 2 time of 1:49.15, just under five minutes faster than Gartner.
Known to be one of the toughest challenges in Australian motor sports, the attrition rate was high, especially amongst the fancied crews.
Leaders at the end of Day 1, the #13 Jimco buggy of Travis Robinson/ Paul Currie were out early in the return run to Alice Springs from Finke with a reported broken gearbox between Mt Squires and Bundooma.
The crew second into Finke yesterday, and second on the podium last year, the SA team of Brad Gallard/Scott Modistach in the #454 Monster Chev Trophy Truck were also a casualty very early in the run today.
Geoff Rowe/Liz Rowe #403 Geiser Bros Trophy Truck, who were third into Finke, also had trouble when they lost a wheel between Deep Well and the finish.
The winning pair (Gartner and Jennings) were extremely generous at the podium presentation today stating that
“A lot of good crews failed to finish,” said Greg Gartner.
“But a victory for a race truck is good for the sport and the Finke Desert Race.
“The sport has been lifted with an outstanding field of both buggies and trucks.
“We have a new truck coming and that will make us even more competitive.”