WA locals to challenge AORC in Kalgoorlie battle royale

The Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race returns this weekend to host the final round of the 2023 Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship.

A strong field of 78 crews have entered the West Australian event, with many looking to finish a challenging national season on a high.

Awaiting crews in Kalgoorlie is more than 320 competitive kilometres, which will be broken down into three laps of the extremely challenging multi-terrain 121-kilometre course.

And being the final round of the season, there are still plenty of titles on the line – many of which are likely to come down to the final section of the event.

Undoubtedly headlining the entry list are 2023 champions-elect Travis Robinson and navigator Andrew Pinto after the duo secured the title at the Loveday 400 in July.

Click here to watch the highlights from the Loveday 400. 

With the national title now won and run, the West Australians can focus their energy on winning their home race, with Robinson’s brother Beau likely to be his biggest challenger.

Both Robinson brothers have a wealth of experience at Kalgoorlie, with Beau victorious at last year’s running of the event.

There are plenty of other local drivers who would be considered genuine contenders for the event including Shane Elphinstone, Adam Trewhella, and Brent Smoothy.

In addition to the local charge, New Zealand off-road stars Raana Horan and John Morgan will both be in attendance for the second time this year and are definitely a chance of being victorious – especially with Horan having won on debut at the Wentworth Shire Pooncarie Desert Dash earlier this year.

View the full entry list.

Another driver entered the event with a genuine chance of an outright victory, and one fans should keep an eye out for, is local Stephen Ketteridge-Hall.

Photos: Dakar Press Team Australia

Despite having only been registered for the Motorsport Australia WA Off Road Championship in last year’s event, Ketteridge-Hall was posting section times that were ranked within the outright event top 10.

Having made some upgrades for this year and now entering the AORC component, Ketteridge-Hall was looking forward to seeing how he fared against the best in the country.,

“I am really looking forward to it personally. We are quite isolated over here in WA, and it’s not very often we get the opportunity to compare ourselves to the other states,” Ketteridge-Hall said.

“I didn’t do the national championship last year, even though I wish I did, so I can’t wait to see how I stack up against some of the best crews in Australia – especially in the Prolite class where there is some really strong competition.

“We have made some improvements to the car for this year, so I am hoping I can better my result from last year, or at least go quicker. I guess I also have the goal of winning the Prolite class and even challenging for the outright event.

“I don’t think I have the home advantage compared to other crews coming over to WA – the track is long and it changes each lap, and in that sense, you must be really careful.

“I am just looking forward to what is always a fantastic event – it’s really well run, it’s great fun to compete in and it’s my favourite to compete at, so it’s very exciting.”

Not only will Ketteridge-Hall be expecting to be in the hunt for outright honours, but also in Prolite, with the class welcoming Mel Brandle and Alan Dixon – both of whom have a shot at winning the national Prolite title.

The SXS Motorsport Australia Championship is another class that is likely to go down to the wire on the weekend – with James Cook, Greg Campbell, James Mogford and Glenn Brinkman all capable of leaving WA as champion, with very little separating the quartet on the standings.

View the 2023 AORC standings.

One of the biggest events on the 2023 calendar, the 78 cars will be sharing the spotlight with 148 bikes, with each discipline having contrasting weekend formats.

Both the cars and bikes will be on display during Thursday’s Street Party and Scrutineering at the Ray Finlayson Sporting Complex from 3pm AWST, before they each have Prologue on Friday, with the cars to run at 2pm local time.

On Saturday, the AORC’s first section will take place between at 10:10am AWST and in between the bikes’ first and second sections, before the remaining two sections are run on Sunday at 7am and 1:20pm AWST.

Fans can follow the event section by section via the AORC results page, or track the cars via Rallysafe.

The Black Diamond Drilling Kalgoorlie Desert Race takes place in Kalgoorlie on 19-22 October.