21-23rd of August saw nearly 70 Off-road Racers hit the tracks at Albins ARB Goondiwindi 400 over the weekend which included a number of vehicles running the Black Bear Baja Rally tyres.
Our Black Bear team consisting of Mike Zacka and Matt Baker in the Mikes Shocks Can-am had an eventful weekend from 30-minute roadside repairs, lost wheels and even a win in section 2.
Smashing the unforgiving 400km course with its extreme windy conditions and winding dirt (and sometimes muddy) terrain completed over 2 days the Baja Rally tyres held its mark in these rough terrains.
“It was so rough, I am so happy I had these Black Bear tyres on the car! We were running through some seriously rough terrain and pushing hard all day. The tyres just keep proving to us how tough they are. We didn’t have a flat all day and some of the new section of track was virgin country with sticks and trees hanging out of the ground everywhere, I think we overtook about 5 or 6 cars in the one little section because the King Shocks and Black Bear tyres just worked so well” said Michael Zacka
Teamed up for the first time with Matt Baker from @theexplorelife as Michael's navigator the pair were set for an adventure. And an adventure they got!
In the prologue round a collapsed ball joint caused the front right wheel to fly off, taking the driveshaft and steering arms with it, which left a big challenge for the team to get the Can-am ready for Race 1 later that day. Watching the team put this car together in such a short time frame was more than impressive to watch as they only just completed it in time for the start of Race 1.
Race 1 also provided its own set of issues with the belt snapping 15km in to lap one. Michael said, “we struggled with the belt, these Can-ams have a CVT transmission with belt drive and the special tool required to install a new belt had seized up. After about 27 minutes we managed to get it done, get back in the car and re-overtake the 10 or so cars that went passed us track side”.
Michael managed to get it back on and finishing the first section, 27 minutes down on the lead and in 61st Position.
Sunday morning was a new day and the boys started at the back of the pack decided it was time to have some fun!
The magic finally arrived, and everyone was on a high after Race 2 with the King Shock Australia/Black Bear Tyres backed entry ending up the 1st in class and 5th overall! The boys managed to edge out Dakar Rally Champion and all round legend Toby Price by just under 30 seconds over the 160km section with Jeff McNiven from JSW Powersports also backed by Mikes Shocks and King Shocks Aus slipped in for a sneaky second just over 15 seconds in front of Price.
Michael and Matt were ecstatic. Michael said, “so stoked we finally got to prove our speed! It’s still a new car with this being its 3rd race and we just haven’t had a trouble free run all year. This was the first ever trouble-free section we have had with this car in a long course event.”
Michael finally got to show that he had the pace to mix it with the fastest guys in the class; Toby is a Dakar winner and World Champion and McNiven is also a world class jet ski racer and UTV Australian championship winner. “So to say I’m happy is an understatement”, says Michael Zacka, “even though we are out of overall contention because of yesterday’s bad luck I feel like we came here today to prove a point and I feel like we did it. I’m just so happy it’s like a dream come true to be in front of guys like that pound for pound in a controlled class”.
Starting 1st in class and 5th position over all in Race 3, (the final race of the day) was a déjà vu of the prologue race whereby another collapsed ball joint caused the front wheel to break off. The boys were doing high speed down a rough fence line where the wheel collapsed and they held on for a wild ride, luckily didn’t hit anything and the car stayed the right way up!
It was devastating to see the team’s chances at winning another section shattered, as they had physically overtaken another car on the road.
We are sure that if the boys didn’t suffer the mechanical failures and setbacks, they would have been standing proud on the podium, but that’s what happens in motorsport.
Black Bear Tyres Australia is proud to have this young gun go hard on the (Australia’s first) Baja Rally tyres and give it his all regardless of the result.
Congratulations to everyone on the team on an amazing effort and dedication on what deemed to look like a quick game over in the prologue, turn out to be a nail biting but safe end to the weekend.
Fingerscrossed we get to see him in action at St George next month, stay tuned...
For all Black Bear Baja Rally tyre enquiries contact:
Mike Zacka from Mike's Shock Shop on 07 3801 5816