GRC Motorsport and Can-Am dominate the St George 399

The St George 399 has been run and won, with Can-Am’s occupying 9 out of the top 10 positions and GRC cars finishing 1-2 as the first of six AORC rounds came to a close.

29 crews were entered in the SXS Pro class, with more than 75% of those entries being Can Am’s. The event begun with reconnaissance of the new 86 kilometre track, and with all the cars following each other in and out of the trees, it was clear form the onset that dust and visibility was going to be a huge factor for who comes out on top.
In prologue it was Josh Weidman who mastered the fast sandy course over the rest of the SXS Pro competitors, even securing a spot in the top 10 shootout amongst the Pro buggies. It was still tight on the timesheet however with the next 6 side by side’s covered by just 11 seconds.

Section one saw newcomer Josh Ferguson leading the class with impressive pace on the opening lap. Unfortunately, a mechanical failure on the second lap would cost him the class lead, and ultimately drop out of contention. When the second lap had concluded, Jake Williams led the field by just 28 seconds from Phil Lovett, but it was Glen Brinkman in his brand new GRC Motorsport prepared Can-Am who took the field by surprise, the state rally champion up to third after the first section. By the end of the first section, there were 6 SXS Pro competitors who were unable to finish the stage and many more who had lost valuable time and dropped out of contention.

As Sunday rolled around, the Second section was a big mix-up to the running order. Glen Brinkman turned up the heat on the third lap of the weekend, setting the fastest lap time of any SXS and convincingly making ground on the top 2 in class. Unfortunately for Jake Williams, his weekend came to an end early in the second lap due to mechanical dramas after a valiant effort in his Yamaha. That left Phil Lovett and Glen Brinkman fighting for stage and class position as they continued into the second lap. Alas, it was not meant to be for Glen Brinkman when his car rolled over exiting a riverbed towards the end of the second lap, although the crew kept on going, they lost valuable time that put them at a longshot of the class win. As the crews rolled in to finish section 2 the times had put Phil Lovett in the class lead closely followed by Greg Campbell just over 5 minutes behind at the end of almost 350 kilometres of racing. Simon Evans was a close third in his Polaris RZR, with Zac Marsh breathing down his neck and Glen Brinkman under a minute behind with an amazing effort by the GRC Motorsport crew to get his car turned around within the one-hour service period.

The third and final section was set for a showdown, Phil Lovett had damaged his front diff during section 2 and didn’t have time to change it in the one-hour service period leaving with only rear-wheel drive. Meanwhile, Greg Campbell, with four-wheel drive was determined to chase him down for the class win. The battle was still on for the minor placings with Evans, Marsh and Brinkman all aiming to secure the final step on the podium. As the Crews left for the final 86km loop, the track was severely rougher compared to the start of the weekend, rutted out whoops, exposed tree roots and hard-hitting square edges made it all that much more difficult for the drivers to navigate. Campbell was down in the first half of the lap to Lovett but started to claw back some time as he got to grips with the roughened-up track. Lovett meanwhile was pushing his Can-Am X3 hard all the way to the line. His hard work paid off as he crossed the line with enough time in hand to hold onto the class win. Greg Campbell pushed all the way to make up over a minute on the final lap, but it wasn’t quite enough, 3 minutes 20 seconds off the race win after over 400 kilometres of racing, making it GRC Motorsport cars position 1 and 2 at the weekends end. The battle for the minor placings was just as intense, Zac Marsh gave it his all on the last lap to make up over a minute and half on Simon Evans and snatch third place from him. Glen Ackroyd rounded out the top 5 with Brinkman narrowly missing out in 6th.

This result meant it was an all Can-Am X3 podium and 6 out of the top 10 finishers were GRC Motorsport built cars.
This event would not be possible without all the sponsors and people who worked to prepare the track for the event. We would like to thank all these people who made this amazing race possible and we look forward to the next round of the BFGoodrich Australian Off-Road Championship at Pooncarie on the 6-8 May.

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