Gold City to welcome massive field for AORC debut

An impressive entry list has been confirmed for the Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) season opener with a solid field of 57 crews entered in next month’s Markwell Group Gold City 450.

As the newest addition to the AORC calendar, the Charters Towers based event will see its highest ever field, compared to its previous status as a state round.

The crews will be battling it out over nine laps of the 50-kilometre course in order to get a strong start to the season.

A solid mix of teams across a range of classes are entered in the first round of the year, with plenty of notable names making the journey up north, including reigning champions Ryan Taylor and Kye Floyd who will be looking to start their title defence on a high.

The Queenslanders headline a massive 18-car Pro-Buggy class, with plenty of intriguing entries likely to offer them a challenge in Charters Towers and the season as a whole.

Some of those notable entries include two-time AORC race winner, Josh Howells, who had a challenging second half of the 2022 season after what had been a career-best run of form.

Howells won’t be the only high-profile name making his grand return to the AORC with a point to prove – the ever-exciting Travis Robinson will be making his first AORC appearance in quite some time.

Travis Robinson in action in 2017 Photo: Alan McIntosh

In addition to the powerful duo are title contenders from last year in Jake Swinglehurst and Garry Turnbull, and the former will be looking to move on from his Kalgoorlie heartbreak where he saw his title aspirations end in the final section.

Joining Swinglehurst in a Pro Buggy is his brother Tom, who upgrades to the buggy from a SXS Can-Am in 2023, while Trevor Chandler, Laurence Svenson and local driver Chris Sollitt are among those other notable names in the class.

There are plenty of other contenders spread throughout the entry list, with the Prolite having a handful of them, including reigning class champion Ally Howells, Andrew Mowles and Tait Svenson.

Boasting the largest field in the entry-list are the SXS Pros with 22 crews entered and led by reigning champion James Cook, while fellow contenders Greg Campbell, Glenn Brinkman and Glen Ackroyd will once again act as Cook’s biggest challengers.

Other familiar names include young gun Joshua Wiedman, Simon Evans and Edan Evans, the latter of which steps up from SXS Sport, and Luke Erceg, who sold his buggy at the end of the season.

Production 4WD veteran Geoff Pickering, Extreme 2WD driver Nicholas Commins, Bradley Geraghty in a Super 1650 buggy and Philip Lovett in a new Trophy Truck are among the other regular competitors heading to Townsville.

Click here to view the full entry list.

Geoff Pickering
Photo: Gears and Wheels Photography

North Queensland Off Road Racing Association secretary Don Young was thrilled with the entry list.

“We are absolutely over the moon with the amount of crews who have entered the event and we’re excited to put on a good show for all those who will be making the journey,” Young said.

“The club has been working extremely hard in hot steamy conditions to get this complex up to a level beyond expectation as this is the biggest field we’ve had here, so we’re confident crews will enjoy the event.

“The Scrutineering venue at Hollimans Rural Mitre 10 is shaping up to be a show piece for the weekend, and there are a number of locals expected to attend as the whole town is getting around it.

“For us, this is just not good for Charters Towers but North Queensland as a whole and we’re really looking forward to welcoming the best in Australia to the town for the start of the AORC season.”

Motorsport Australia Director of Motorsport & Commercial Operations Michael Smith was proud to see a healthy entry list for the first running of the Gold City 450.

“To have such a strong turnout for this new event on the calendar is a testament to the off-road community and their passion for the sport,” Smith said.

“Despite some crews having to make quite the journey to Charters Towers, they have rolled up their sleeves and showed their commitment to the championship by entering and it’s just brilliant to see.

“We have every confidence the North Queensland Off Road Racing Association will live up to all expectations to provide a wonderful event for all those who attend, and we’re excited for the start of a new season.”

Click here for more information on the event.

The 2023 Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship season begins with the Markwell Group Gold City 450 in Charters Towers on 10-12 March.

Feature Photo: Gears and Wheels Photography