Shane Marsden gets his Nissan Patrol moving through the mud in the Dirt Sprintz at Project FMX on Saturday.
Shane Marsden gets his Nissan Patrol moving through the mud in the Dirt Sprintz at Project FMX on Saturday. Chris Ison

Mud-runners paradise

WHEN organisers for the Project FMX Dirt Sprintz spoke about the event early in the week they said they hoped for rain in the lead-up and then dry on Saturday.

Unfortunately they got a complete reversal of fortune with the event staged in showery conditions. Grease wasn’t the word – it was good old-fashioned mud!

Drivers forced their vehicles through it while young children had a ball setting up mud slides in areas away from the track.

Nevertheless whenever the Central Queensland public is given a chance to see vehicles ploughing through mud at high speeds they turn out in droves to watch. They were not to be disappointed.

Admittedly there were some who did not like the look of the track and opted out, but for those willing to give their vehicles a major clean-up at the conclusion of racing, there was plenty of action.

The object of the exercise was to get each vehicle around the course, negotiating slippery bends, making up time on the long straights and even taking to the air when hitting the jumps.

It was certainly a test for both driver and vehicle with some taking on the course and carefully negotiating the obstacles while others preferred to keep the engine revs up and spend the full four kilometre trip correcting and re-correcting their line on the treacherous track.

It was no trip for the faint hearted but for spectators who love to hear the sounds of these big motors under load and watch as drivers do their best to keep their line it was a great day out.

Visual identification was a little difficult, given the conditions, with mud coating everything that might give a clue as to who the competitor might be.

Added to the thrills, early on, were the sounds of a helicopter hovering over the track. The chopper had been scheduled to take people on trips and experience what it is like in these machines but as the weather closed in the operation to cease.

A spokeswoman for the organisers, Jessica McIlwain, said considering the conditions the event went well.

“We still pushed on,” she said.

“A few pulled out as they didn’t want to make a mess of their cars but all the hard core were out there.”

Unfortunately competitors who were expected to dominate were Class 7 Australian champion Clayton Chapman and his mother Layla in the Women’s section.

McIlwain said one of the Chapman family had suffered an early problem with the mud and in the end all three family members pulled out of the final sprint.

Both finished second in their group, Clayton in the Standard Petrol division and Layla in the Women’s section.

Track commentator Dan Curran said the pair had done well, as they arrived to face conditions for which they were unprepared.

“They came for a fast rally event and it ended up as a mud sprint,” he said.

“The ones that did best had the big chunky tyres.”

Also due to the conditions, which deteriorated through the day, organisers were forced to alter the format.

Curran said the original plan was for six heats and then a final, however, winners were declared after just two heats with a “dash for cash” held over a 1km sprint section – won by Russ Mason.

DIRT SPRINTZ

Petrol Standard

1 Mick Bryant, 2 Clayton Chapman, 3 Mark Ein.

Ladies

1 Kelsie Belz, 2 Layla Chapman, 3 Ammy Ein.

Diesel

1 Brenton Thompson, 2 equal Shawn Swaffield, Adrian Turner, 4 Shane Marsden.

Petrol Modified

1 Aaron Benson, 2 Steve Hull, 3 Kenny Brown.

Overall champion: Aaron Benson.

Carpel Dash for cash: Russ Mason.



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