SPECTATORS enjoyed action-packed racing when the Sea Lake Off Road Club hosted the 44th annual Mallee Rally at the weekend.
The event marked the third round of the ARB Australian Off Road Racing Series and the second round of the Sunset Challenge.
Clerk of the course Joe Marshall said the event attracted competitors and crews from all over Australia.
In what proved to be a nail-biting finish to the gruelling 400km course, only 15 seconds separated first and second place.
“It was one of the closest finishes in my time,” Mr Marshall said.
“It was exciting to watch.
“It was pretty exciting to see who was going to come over the hill first in that last three kilometres.”
After leading for most of the event, New Zealand competitors Raana Horan and Klem Christiansen had their sights set on the finish line when they were pipped at the post, with Victorians Danny Brown and George Apted claiming their first Mallee Rally title.
Third place went to Aaron and Liz Haby, who had a challenging weekend.
Despite rolling their buggy in Saturday’s prologue, the duo made a big impression in Sunday’s main event. While Liz had to retire from her navigating duties due to ill health two laps in, The Element Off Road Racing Team crossed the finish line in third place.
Mr Marshall said the picturesque Lake Tyrrell track was in very good condition.
“There was good moisture underneath but it was a bit dusty in some spots,” he said, noting the course once again put competitors through their paces.
Out of 98 starters, only 48 cars managed to complete the course.
Locally, Swan Hill’s Simmonds Brothers Racing Team placed 11th overall, while Sea Lake’s Alistair McClelland and Steve Newick placed third in their class.