Ready to race
Friday, 4th April, 2014
By Ethan James
Two Silver City drivers are hoping to put their hometown knowledge to good use at the ARB Paringa Desert 400 this weekend.
Former local Chris Wilson, who now lives on the Gold Coast, and Kerry Turley will be putting the pedal to the metal at Paringa Station.
Remarkably, Wilson learned to drive at Paringa Station and will get behind the wheel in the Pro Buggy category.
The event is the opening race of a five-leg series to be held across New South Wales this year.
It is the first time a race of this nature has been held in Broken Hill and 64 drivers in five categories have travelled from across Australia to test themselves on the 80km course.
Wilson, who was hard at work making last-minute adjustments to his buggy at Limestone Station yesterday, describes it as an “exceptionally strong field”.
“The Kittle teams from Adelaide probably have the two of the fastest off road buggies in Australia,” he said.
“My car is a little bit older (2006) and not as powerful as some of the others, so a top 20 finish will be nice.
“I’ll basically be happy to finish and get through the race ... you basically push the cars to breaking point.
“Off road racing does have a fairly high attrition rate.”
Wilson’s car can reach speeds in excess of 240kmh but doesn’t think the Paringa track will lend itself to full throttle.
The track is described by the Off Road Racing website as a mixture of terrain, including farm tracks and dry creek beds.
“It’s a new track and it’s definitely hard country, so if you venture off the designated track then you could be in a bit of trouble,” Wilson said.
His last race in June saw him squander a strong position when one of the beams holding the front left tyre to the car snapped off.
“You pretty much just push it and then hope you have a bit of luck along the way.”
Turley will race as one of four cars in the extreme 4WD category.
“It’s different to what I normally do but we’ll get to sight the track beforehand which will help out a lot,” he said.
“I hope it keeps raining to be honest, my car is probably more suited to the wet conditions than the buggies.”
Turley will be joined in his V8 Nissan Patrol by a tag-team of navigators in the form of close friend Jonathan Oliver and 17-year-old daughter Brianna.
“She’s got her new helmet and racing suit and is all ready to go,” Turley said.
“Brianna has been in the car before but not in a competitive event like this but I’m sure she’ll go really well.”
Vehicle scrutiny and briefings occur when the Desert 400 officially begins today.
Drivers then have the opportunity to undertake course reconnaissance and a prologue on Saturday.
The race then begins at 8.30am on Sunday with the first car expected to finish about 1.30pm.