Hunter Racing had a character-building Queen’s Birthday Weekend, tackling some of the roughest country in Australia without the benefit of 4WD.
 
The Queensland-based team’s V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee was just 50km into the first 230km of the legendary Finke Desert Race in the Red Centre, when the front axle failed, leaving them to make their way south in two-wheel drive.
 
The Finke Desert Race is run over two days from Alice Springs to the small Aputula (Finke) Aboriginal community and back. The 460km ‘race track’ is split into two segments by the overnight stop (and party venue) at the Aboriginal settlement. During the event competitors cross the Finke River, believed to be the oldest river in the world.

“The track was the roughest it has ever been in the nine times I have run it – dry, dusty and rough,” says Colin Hunter.
 
“There were 85 cars and buggies running and only about 40 of those finished, and there were a fair few DNFs among the 477 bikes that entered too.”
 
Hunter says the team was able to replace the axle at the overnight stop at Finke but because the one that failed had been custom-made for the conditions and its replacement was not quite as resilient, the team then chose to make most of the return trip in 2WD.
 
“Finke was the second round of the Australian Offroad Racing Championship and championships are won by being consistent, not by killing the car, so we just took it easy so we could be sure of a finish. We ended up 25th vehicle home and first 4WD.
 
“The Finke is not an event that really suits our car but other than the axle, we had no problems at all. Our Goodyear Wrangler MTR tyres were as strong and reliable as ever, and the car ran like clockwork, thanks to the team’s hard work. The Finke is always a great adventure and we all had a good time, even though it was so challenging.”
 
Colin Hunter and navigator Bronwyn Humphrey are now preparing for the Teagle Excavation’s Pines Enduro, the third round of the five-round AORC series to be run at Millicent near Mt Gambier, SA, over the weekend of July 13-15.
 
Last year the team won their class in the Championship series for the third year in a row and the team is keen for a repeat in 2007 – they are currently running first in the points tally for their class. Their V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee competes in ‘Extreme 4WD’ which used to be known as Class Eight and is open to highly modified 4WD vehicles with engines not exceeding 6000c.
 
Hunter Racing would like to thank Goodyear, Modena Engineering and Chrysler Jeep for their ongoing support.
 
The Tattersall’s Finke Desert Race is the richest offroad race in the Southern Hemisphere. It started in 1976 as a ‘there and back’ challenge for a group of local motorbike riders and was so successful it has been held on every Queen’s Birthday long weekends ever since, with cars and buggies being introduced in 1988. The outright winners in the car/buggy and motorbike divisions each claim the title of ‘King of the Desert’ and a $10,000 prize purse for their efforts.
 

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