New Zealanders Raana Horan and Michael Connor claimed a thrilling victory at the Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash over the weekend for their first-ever Australian win.
The event, run as Round 2 of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC), saw the Kiwi pair locked in an enthralling battle with West Australians Travis Robinson and Andrew Pinto, emerging victorious by just over one minute in the premier Pro Buggy class.
“It’s the first time winning and It’s been a long time in the making,” Horan said.
“I’ve been coming to Australia for 12 years and coming over here trying to win something. I’ve had a couple of thirds, but first is my best so I’m happy.
“I didn’t think I’d won it until the end because we had a bit of a problem at the start. But when we were coming off lap three, I thought we’re in a really good spot because the guys in front of me had gone out. So I just had to do a clean lap, which I did.
“We’re into coming to these races but more into having the experience of travelling across Australia and doing races. So we’re actually looking to do some other races in Kalgoorlie and other places, somewhere we can camp and take the kids and have a good time while we’re doing it.”
Those two teams put on a masterclass up front, pulling clear over the field on the NSW desert course, trumping third-placed Mel Brandle and Nick Price by over 10 minutes.
There was also a solid result for fellow Kiwi pair John and Dave Morgan who finished fifth overall.
Horan and Connor started the weekend off strongly in Saturday’s Prologue, finishing fourth on the 9.41km stage and only 8 seconds off top spot.
A massive 105km Section 1 followed that same evening, with the Kiwis finishing third, two minutes off the leader.
Sunday’s gruelling 315km Stage 2 is where the Kiwis won the event, proving consistency is key as they took it to their Australian rivals.
Overnight leaders Josh Howells and Gordon Tardrew were among the day’s early victims, crashing out on the second lap, elevating Ryan Taylor and Kye Floyd to the lead.
That too was short-lived, mechanical dramas forcing a lengthy delay and dropping them down the order, giving the fast-flying Kiwis the net lead, where they never looked back by consistently punching out solid laps.