Monster machines ready to battle it out in the desert

This beast has no windscreen.

Can you imagine that?

Bugs, dust, rocks; it’s all going to come flying through the front when 36-year-old Two Wells offroad racing driver Michael Shipton and his navigator and sidekick Paul Chorlton take on the iconic Tatts Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs from June 11-14.

Two years in the making, the PRT Racing boys are hoping this vehicle will take them safely from point A to point B when they tackle the grueling 200km-plus desert race against what is likely to be one of the largest fields taking part in years.

They have built this car from the ground up, modifying a 2008 PJ Ford Ranger so it will (hopefully, fingers crossed) handle the rough, dusty conditions of the tough race.

It’s a race definitely not for the faint hearted.

And Paul is pretty excited.

“I’ve been to watch the race for the past six or seven years,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to it, to be a part of it will be fantastic.”

The pair have been driving and navigating together for a number of years, and are well-known on the off-road racing local scene.

They have tackled more than a few of South Australia’s off-road racing tracks and will compete in the Class 5 performance two-wheel-drive category.

“We’ve only been on small tracks that we’ve driven before,” Paul said.

“So this is going to all be pretty new.

“We’ve built this vehicle to suit, hopefully, the rough terrain.”

They are looking forward to “taking on the big guys” and putting their new vehicle to the test.

The race is held each year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June and is one of the biggest annual sporting events in the Northern Territory.

It has the reputation of being one of the most difficult off-road courses in one of the most remote places in the world but this is exactly what the boys are looking forward to.

The dust won’t bother them, it’s all part of the fun, and they have air blowers to their helmets to help with that.

There’s also $20,000 worth of shock absorbers, roll bars, full cams cage, 35-inch tyres, a communications and navigation system, and a fully built turbo 400 transmission.

A host of local automotive businesses have added their stamp to the vehicle, which by the way, featured at the Adelaide Auto Expo earlier in the year.

With the countdown well and truly underway for the big race, a slight mishap at a test-run off-road racing event in Parilla last month saw the PRT Racing team working long hours to get the car ready.

Best of luck boys, drive safe.

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