WALKINSHAW Performance has extended its Australian motorsport success into the off-road arena.
Led by Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars co-driver Warren Luff, the organisation yesterday clinched the Australian Off Road Championship title in the production four-wheel-drive class.
Luff and navigator Tony Ramunno finished second in class aboard their Volkswagen W580X Amarok at the Kalgoorlie Desert Race to seal the deal.
But it didn’t come without drama.
“We knew that coming into this weekend, we had to finish all three legs of the event to be able to win the championship,” Luff told V8 Sleuth.
“Each lap is 120km so it was 360km of racing plus the prologue. And in this kind of racing, to go ‘you’ve only got to finish the weekend and then you can wrap up the championship’ is much easier said than done.
“It’s such a brutal sport, the attrition rate at most events is usually somewhere up around about 50 percent, so most of the time just making it to the finish is an accomplishment.
“Even for us, on the last lap, we were just driving the car at a comfortable pace and we had an issue where the battery terminal started to break away, so we had to stop and spend about 15 minutes doing a bit of bush mechanical skills to get the car going again and make it through to the finish.
“There was definitely a moment there where it was a bit heart-in-mouth.
“Thankfully Tony has got amazing mechanical skills so I was definitely the person passing the tools and he was definitely the one doing the mechanical work and trying to figure out what we needed to do.”
Luff describes the AORC crown as a highlight in a career that has included six Bathurst 1000 podiums.
“We knew that we were obviously the new kids on the block and it was going to be a big learning curve for both myself and the team and everyone involved because it’s the first time that we all have embarked on something like that,” he said.
“Incredibly happy to be able to walk away with the championship in the first year, it has definitely been a great accomplishment and I’m so proud of everyone at Walkinshaw Performance and everyone on the team who has made it possible.”
Luff is not certain yet how a 2023 program might look but has enjoyed the challenge of coming to grips with off-road racing.
“Each event we go to I keep learning and improving,” said the 46-year-old.
“It’s very mentally tiring because even though prior to the event we go and do a recce and pace note the event, the way that the track changes… like this weekend there was 85 cars and 160-odd bikes, so each lap they are all ripping the track up.
“So your pace notes are more of an advisory than they are of what’s really coming up because the track continually changes and evolves so you have always got to be on the lookout for the next thing that might damage the car and ultimately put you out of the event.”
Ryan Taylor and Kye Floyd won the AORC outright title.