|The Darling 200, round five of the CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC), is known to be a car breaker with some rough and challenging tree-lined stages.|
In sunny spring conditions, 26 competitors lined up at the start line in Jarrahdale and 22 crossed the finish line completing all six stages, a total of 115 competitive kilometres in the blind rally.
In a blind rally, competitors are issued with a road book in the morning and a recce is not permitted, thus competitors aren’t able to write their own pace notes.
This was the last rally for hard working Clerk of Course Wendy Walker who will remain involved in WARC albeit in other capacities.
“It’s been an honour to serve as Clerk of Course for eleven years and as an official since 2002, but it’s now time to step aside and give someone else the opportunity to step up,” Walker said.
“I have enjoyed every event, been stressed, sad, happy relieved and felt very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be Clerk of Course. My thanks to all that made me look good, especially my tireless deputy John Thorburn who has taught me so much and given me many laughs over the years.”
Rally WA Event Director Ross Tapper said that it’s officials like Walker that make rallying in Western Australia a possibility.
“Wendy is a true professional and completely dedicates herself to whatever she chooses to do. On behalf of the all officials, rally competitors and crews, I’d like to thank her for all her hard work and the many, many hours she’s put into the sport to ensure it’s safe and enjoyable for all,” Tapper said.
This year’s WARC outright competition has already been won by John O’Dowd who scored well in the first round at Forest Rally and won Karri Rally, Boddington Safari and Kirrup Stages to be so far in front in the points that he is impossible to beat, even with two rounds to go. O’Dowd opted to skip Darling 200 due to logistics and timings to transport his Skoda R5 car back to Western Australian between CAMS Australian Rally Championship rounds, of which O’Dowd currently sits in fourth place.
The battle was on for second in the WARC which was tied between Ben Searcy and Craig Rando leading into Darling 200.
Setting a cracking pace to win the first stage was five-time WA State Champion John Macara who was competing in his first rally for the year, with co-driver Ross Burton calling the notes in their Mitsubishi Evo 7. After the third stage, Macara was delayed by 40 minutes with an electrical fault, given a late time, and went on to win Stage 4, only to be forced to retire with a radiator issue.
This gave Steve Oxley and co-driver Michael Wood in their CASA Security Subaru Impreza STI the lead, which they maintained and protected until the end to finish on the top step of the podium, 1:08 seconds ahead of a gravel rookie.
“The anticipation was high because it was a blind rally and a rally that’s known to be rough, but really, it wasn’t that bad and the roads were very good,” said Oxley.
“It was my first blind rally since 2011, but I’ve done a lot of those before that time. We didn’t have any problems, we didn’t have to push too hard, but decided in the last stage to keep alert and give it some extra, so it was great to finish with a stage win,” said the winner of Stages 2, 3 and 6.
Oxley added that he was impressed by Peter Major who competed in his first gravel rally.
Taking second place was gravel rookie, an esteemed circuit racer and six-time winner of tarmac rally Make Smoking History Targa West, Peter Major with co-driver Kim Screaigh in their Totally 4×4 Mitsubishi Evo 7.
Major said that until a week ago, he’d never driven fast on dirt or gravel and now he can’t wipe the smile off his face.
“I wasn’t worried about the gravel as such, I guess it’s more of the case of the unknown, not knowing how much grip there is, how late to brake, how much speed to carry in corners, negotiating the rocks and bumps and what happens when you go over them, that sort of thing,” the 33-year-old Wembley resident said.
“The first stage was a blur, but it was so much fun. As we did each stage, I felt less out of control and more in control.
“I wasn’t worried about rolling the car, I was more worried about rolling the tyre off the rim.”
Rounding out the top three a further 21 seconds behind Major / Screaigh was Barry McGuinnes and co-driver Stephen Wade in their Subaru Impreza.
Ben Searcy and co-driver Jimmy Marquet finished fourth in their Swift Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 9, scoring enough points to sit in second place on the WARC leaderboard ahead of the final round.
Fighting Searcy for WARC second place was Craig Rando and co-driver Matthew Scafidi, but they lost 20 minutes on Stage 3, overshooting a corner and beaching their Rando Constructions Subaru WRX STI.
“We’re looking forward to resetting now for the Experts Cup in Collie, and focus on learning more and improving,” said Rando competing in his first blind rally and his second year in the sport.
“Once the Darling 200 started our confidence grew awfully quick, Wendy and the rally team put together some great roads, dust was not a factor, speeds were extremely high and smiles were off the charts,” said Rando, despite the disappointing result finishing in 13th place, 19:58 minutes behind the winner.
Darling 200 Overall WARC
1st Oxley/Wood Subaru Impreza STI 1:05:12.5
2nd Major/Screaigh Mitsubishi
Evo VII 1:06:21.2
3rd McGuinness/Wade Subaru
Impreza WRX 1:06:42.0
In the 2WD Drivers Championship, rookie Glenn Alcorn took his first win.
“It’s my first year rallying, so I’m over the moon with the win. I was optimistic, I’d never done a blind rally before, but we just tried our best and came out with a win, very happy with it,” Irish-born Alcorn said.
“I had gearbox issues all day making it hard to select second gear and on the last stage, my water pump was leaking coolant and I had a slow puncture, so I was glad to get it to the finish,” said the 31-year-old from Joondanna.
Scoring maximum points with the win, Alcorn has closed the gap and sits in third place in the 2WD WARC, 53 points behind the leader.
Finishing second place just shy of 25 seconds behind Alcorn was Razvan Vlad with his wife and co-driver Iaona Vlad in their MAXYRally Ford Fiesta ST, scoring enough points to maintain the top spot on the 2WD WARC leaderboard.
Rounding out the top three of the Darling 200 was Alex and Lisa White in their Information Proficiency Nissan Silvia S13, putting them in second place overall in the 2WD WARC.
Darling 200 Overall 2WD
1st Alcorn/McMacken Ford
Escort Mk2 RS2000 1:09:07.9
2nd Vlad/Vlad Ford
Fiesta ST 1:09:32.8
3rd White/White Nissan
Silvia S13 1:11:18.1
|Clubman Cup and Clubman Masters |
The shorter format Clubman Cup and Clubman Masters class is more accessible to those with less times, less budget or new to the sport. They raced the clock on the first three stages of the Darling 200.
All six competitors in the Clubman Cup class finished the rally with rookie Anthony Chudleigh and co-driver Tim Wright fastest in their Ford Fiesta ST150.
In second place 3:09 minutes behind was Steve Vass and Ashely Burton in their Perth City Peugeot & Used Cars Datsun 1600. Picking up 68 points for his efforts puts Vass in an unbeatable position to win this year’s Clubman Cup category with one round to go.
Rookies rounded out the top three, competing in their first event, Dermy O’Donovan and Jonathan Charlesson in their Hamersley electrical Contracting Mitsubishi Mirage.
In the Clubman Masters, two of the three competitors completed all three stages with Lance Stringer and Chris Parish in their Lawnswood Nissan Silvia taking the win, scoring maximum points to also win the class for the year, unbeatable even with one round remaining.
Darling 200 Clubman Cup
1st Chudleigh/Wright Ford
2nd Vass/Burton Datsun
3rd O’Donovan/Charlesson Mitsubishi
Darling 200 Clubman Masters
1st Stringer/Parish Nissan
2nd van Kann/Esterbauer Toyota
The sixth and final round of the 2019 CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship is the Make Smoking History Experts Cup held in and around Collie on Saturday 26 October, 2019.
For full results and more information, please visit www.rallywa.com