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Challenge begins

Monday, 19th May, 2008

Motorsport fans enjoyed a mixture of racing and wreckage at the blue metal quarry yesterday for the Legacy Special Stage of the ARB Warn 4x4 Outback Challenge.

Over 50 teams competed in the motorkhana style event, which saw competitors race the clock across a specially designed obstacle course.

The 'water pit' and 'winch wall' obstacles proved too difficult for a few teams, and organiser Paul Vanderhorst said this year's course was deliberately more challenging than the 2007 layout.

Mr Vanderhorst said he was pleased with way the event had unfolded, and that all racers were still in the hunt despite a few breakdowns yesterday.

"It's been fantastic," he said.

"We've got the rocks in different places , we've got more holes - crab holes we call them - and the entry and exit to the water pit is a lot steeper.

"Some gear has been breaking on some of the trucks, the course is proving very challenging... (but) the guys who have had breakages, they can fix it."

The event has also seen some changes off the track, with organisers set to recognise racers who have competed since the 4x4 Challenge began in 1999.

Ex-locals Barry and Sue Packer are one of a handful of teams who have competed for the full ten years, and the duo were still going strong yesterday with a good time in the first round of competition.

Formerly of Bindara Station, the couple now live at Amata Station near the SA/NT border, and said they were hoping their return to the city would be a happy one.

"Hopefully we can do a bit better than in previous years... We've been going since 1999, it must be a sickness!" laughed Barry.

"But we've thoroughly enjoyed it, we've seen a lot of changes too, there's bigger cars out there now, a lot more horsepower.

"I guess being from the Broken Hill District, it brings you back to the area and it's really enjoyable."

Ten years of competition has taken its toll however, and Barry said this year's Challenge would probably be their last.

"After ten years it will be nice to see it go, the vehicle is getting a bit older and so are we - the body breaks down after a while," he said.

"I'm also getting a lot closer to retirement, and the money could probably be better spent than crashing around in an old FJ40.

"But I'd still like to be involved... You meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends.

"I think it'll be nice to just sit back and watch it and not be part of the torture yourself."

Results from the Motorkhana stage and the Prologue held at Stephen's Creek on Saturday night will be posted at www.outback4x4challenge.com.

Competitors will today continue competing at special stages set up on stations around the city.

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