James Cook has made history this weekend after becoming the first SXS driver to ever win a Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) round.
Cook and navigator Mitch Aucote produced a remarkable effort throughout the Markwell Group Gold City 450, beating reigning champions Ryan Taylor and Kye Floyd, while Travis Robinson and Andrew Pinto rounded out the podium.
In what was a considered a track suited to the nimble SXS cars, Cook took full advantage all weekend as he led the field at every section – producing a faultless nine laps.
Having charged to the lead after Saturday’s opening section, the Victorian continued on his way on Sunday morning to extend that lap by 10 seconds.
Finishing yesterday’s action in third, Taylor and Floyd managed to make up ground on Robinson in the opening section before trying to chase down the leading the SXS in the final section.
While Taylor closed the gap in section’s three first lap, Cook held off in the final laps to reach the chequered flag – creating history in the meantime.
“It’s amazing. It’s just so surreal and I am still pinching myself. I can’t believe we got it done,” Cook said. "It wasn’t easy by any means. We had to push hard all weekend and luckily some good laps on Saturday morning set the scene for the weekend and gave us a nice lead. From there we just chipped away and did what we had to do. The car’s not in great shape and it was making a lot of noises due to broken bits, but we got there and did what we had to do. The win gives us a good start to the year from an outright perspective and I’ll definitely enjoy it for the moment. It’s unreal. Obviously, our main focus is the SXS class again, as we did that in 2022. So if we can do that again this year and keep the ball rolling and then that’s great. We finished seventh outright last season after missing round one, so we’ll take it as it comes – anything is possible.”
The battle for second and third proved quite entertaining as Taylor overcame a Robinson to start his title defence on a high, in addition to winning the pro-class.
Finishing in fourth was Tom and Kate Swinglehurst, while Glen Ackroyd and Michael Price made up the top five, as well as finishing second in the SXS Pro.
A couple of more SXS buggies followed with sixth and seventh place provisionally with James and Michael Mogford edging out Glenn Brinkman and Dale Moscatt.
In eighth overall was Ally Howells and Sarah Corrigan, the Prolite winners finishing ahead of Laurence and Janelle Svenson and in ninth and Benjamin Falk and Johnny O’Connor rounding out the top 10.
Other class winners included Nicholas Commins (Extreme 2WD), Phil Lovett (Extreme 4WD), Brian Bradford (Super 1650) and Ross Newman (SXS Sport).
The next round of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road (AORC) will be the Coomealla Memorial Club and Bendigo Bank Pooncarie Desert Dash on 21-23 April.
Photos: DJH Creative