Former Supercars driver Paul Weel is motivated to continue his comeback to competitive driving after completing the “toughest” test of his life at the BF Goodrich Mint 400 in Las Vegas, Nevada today.
Weel spent almost eight hours behind the wheel and finished 10th in the unlimited class which included another 23 of the world’s best off-road competitors.
The Queenslander started the race from the back of the unlimited grid after a rock smashed his drive shaft in qualifying and he failed to register a time.
The race was won by third-generation racer Luke McMillan who clinched the title 34 years after his father Mark won the event in 1986 and is also a five-time winner of the Baja 1000.
It was also a victory for BF Goodrich in the on-going off-road tyre war with the win and four of the top five places including Ryan Arciero, Bryst Herst and Cody Parkhouse who came in behind second-placed Bryce Menzies, who was on Toyo rubber.
“They said it would be tough and they were not wrong,” Weel told Speedcafe.com back in the pits after finishing the race.
“I would not have spent more than three hours in a race car before at Bathurst or in the Australian Safari and today I did eight.
“It was my first trophy truck event and to come away with the result we did was very satisfying.
“It was amazing how the track changed over the four laps.
“On the last lap the woops were up to a metre deep and you were tackling all this in the dark which was another completely new experience.
“To say the whole thing was a massive learning experience would be an understatement.”
Weel, 40, lost four positions early in the race after getting a flat tyre and then lost more than 10 minutes towards the end of lap three because of a loose wire on his starter motor.
“Given the couple of problems we had, the fact that I have not done much racing in the last 10 years and it was my first time in the truck at such a tough event, I am pretty happy to get the result we did,” said Weel.
“It was really a case of getting the shit beat out of you for eight hours and the beating got worse as the race worse on because the course just changed that much.
“I am tired and I am sure I will be tired in the morning, but I don’t feel that I have pulled up too bad for a 40-year-old bloke.-
Other Australians in the field had mixed days with Rockhampton’s Brett Comisky finishing the race with his Gold Cost “team-mate” Dan McKenzie jumping in for the final lap after his steering box failed.
Rokhamtpon’s Billy Geddes finished after slotting in for this US-based owner Robert Johnston, who did a solid job early.
Weel is set to continue his Stadium Super Truck appearances in Australia through the year but admits to being more motivated than ever to do the famous Baja 1000 in November.
“The Baja 1000 is the biggest off-road event in the world after the Dakar and it would be great to do it,” admitted Weel.
“It is a bit early to be thinking about it, but it would be great to put a solid Australian team together and go and tackle it later in the year.
“At the moment all I want is a shower, a beer and a decent feed.”