Bailey to put Pooncarie aside ahead of Finke Desert Race

Roydn Bailey is hoping for a change in fortune ahead of the 2024 Tatts Finke Desert Race.

The 2019 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) runner-up had a difficult start to the 2024 season after failing to finish last month’s season opener.

In what was his first AORC round since a podium at the 2023 Loveday 400, Bailey began the Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash with a decent run – finishing inside the top 20 in both Transportable Shade Sheds Prologue and section one.

That’s as good as it got for the talented South Australian, who was forced to park up his Element Prodigy buggy during the second section when he sustained a destroyed timing belt.

While his race eventually proved terminal, the issue has since been fixed, allowing Bailey to turn his attention to the iconic Northern Territory-based event.

“There is no denying Pooncarie was a disappointment,” Bailey said.

“It was pretty hard for us all weekend – we didn’t do a reconnaissance lap which put us behind the eight ball and then we had a GPS issue on the Saturday. But we got going on Sunday and there were some positives from the event until we were forced to retire.

Photos: Dan Thompson

“I think we showed good pace once we did get going, so I have some confidence. We have also fixed the problems which hopefully aren’t a factor in the future.

“As for Finke, I am feeling really good about it. I have Simon Hermann and Toby Whateley as my navigators and they are seasoned campaigners who have done 10 Finke events between them – it’s a bonus to have them and they should help me push me up the ranks.

“I am now putting Pooncarie behind me, resetting and it’s full steam ahead for Finke.”

Not only did the opening round of the season prove forgettable for the Rodyn, but it also threw its challenges to his son Lachlan, who had a mixed weekend behind the wheel.

Entered in the Transportable Shade Sheds Motorsport Australia SXS Championship, Lachlan and navigator Nathan Sracek were the highest place SXS crew in Prologue but suffered mechanical dramas in the first section.

Fixing his Can-Am overnight, Lachlan bounced back on Sunday to win the section by 24 seconds over eventual round winners Greg and Tori Campbell – however it was purely a consolation prize in the overall results.

Despite the mixed weekend for Lachlan, who picked up valuable section points in the SXS Pro class, Roydn was pleased his son was able to rebound strongly and gain confidence ahead of Finke.

“I am extremely proud with the way Lachlan responded,” Roydn added.

“That section one issue was something out of his control, and understandably he was disappointed – we all were disappointed, so to come out the way he did was really pleasing. Other than the mechanical issue, it was a fantastic weekend.

“If he can keep the gremlins away from his car, I think he should do quite well at Finke and he is definitely capable of getting the class win.”

View the full championship standings here.

The Tatts Finke Desert Race takes place in Alice Springs and the remote community of Aputula on 7-10 June.