WARRNAMBOOL driver Shannon Rentsch says his sixth Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) ranks among the most satisfying in his career.
Rentsch, 31, and his father Ian, 60, as navigator, claimed their first AORC title since 2009 with a composed performance in the final round at Lockyer Valley, Queensland.
The pair placed second behind Matt Hanson and Leigh Wells in their Jimco buggy powered by a Nissan twin-turbo V6 engine.
The result was enough for them to maintain their lead in the AORC, finishing with 1416 points, ahead of Hayden Bentley (1221) and Hanson (1082).
Rentsch said he and his father won three AORC titles in 2004, ’05 and ’06 and returned to the top of the podium in ’08 and ’09.
A reduced commitment to the past three years meant they relinquished their status as the ones to beat.
But they returned in emphatic fashion this year, finishing no lower than second in the five rounds across Australia.
“The last couple of years we only did a couple of races,” Rentsch said.
“To come back and get the number one again, it’s a dream come true.
“It’s pretty rewarding especially after having a quiet couple of years.
“It’s the most consistent season we’ve had to date,” he said. “We’re really happy with how the car has performed all year.”
The Rentschs started their 2013 campaign with victory in round one at Hyden, 330 kilometres east of Perth, in March.
They were second at the iconic Finke Desert Race, from Alice Springs to Finke in the Northern Territory, in June.
A second triumph in round three at Baroota, 250km north of Adelaide, in July affirmed their place as the AORC leaders.
They then earned second at Coffs Harbour, in New South Wales, in September before sealing the overall win on the weekend.
Rentsch said the pair drove conservatively in qualifying and the first two 100km sections — made up of two 50km laps — at Lockyer Valley.
They became bolder in the third section with the AORC secure and their last lap — 47 minutes, 53.828 seconds — was the fastest of the weekend.
“It was the Lockyer Valley, so it was held in the mountains,” Rentsch said.
‘‘There were lots of trees, lots of rocks and it was very hilly in sections.”
Rentsch said he and his father would take a break for a few weeks before starting preparations for the 2014 AORC.
“We’ll go over the whole car. There are a few things that need freshening up,” he said.
“So we’ll do that and hopefully make a few improvements at the same time to try and defend that number one.”