The township of Nannup has come alive with crews currently making any necessary changes to the cars contesting the Make Smoking History Forest Rally during the Heat One midday service.
After six stages Eli Evans/Ben Searcy are currently dominating the field of CAMS Australian Rally Championship contenders ahead of nearest rivals Steve Glenney/Andy Sarandis and Glen Raymond/Kathryn Catford.
It’s been a mixed morning for the Skoda Fabia R5 cars that are making their debut on Australian rally roads here in Western Australia.
Evans/Searcy took the opening forest stage by 15 seconds, the second by close to 24 seconds and have continued to stretch their lead throughout the day. However, Adrian Coppin/Erin Kelly suffered a suspected broken steering arm following heavy contact with a rock on SS4.
“We really wanted to get off to a good start and do the Skoda justice. There is a lot of pressure driving a car like this because everyone knows it’s fast so I was feeling that pressure, but it’s relieving to know we’ve got a nice big lead after two stages,” Evans said.
“I said before the rally started it’s such an easy car to drive it’s nice to be so far in front after a couple of stages. I feel like I’m driving the car well so we’ll try and be consistent and I’ll try to improve the car from here,” he continued.
Overnight leaders Harry Bates/John McCarthy had a difficult morning, with their role as car one on the road proving more challenging than they anticipated.
“It’s been really, really tough those first two stages, they were probably slipperier than last year which I didn’t expect, on the recce I thought they would be a little more grippy. I got to the end and thought we’ve done the best we can but obviously Eli is setting much quicker times,” Harry Bates said.
Their day got worse on SS6 Ellis 1 with the car going off road and ending up on its side. While both crew are out and okay their service crew are still waiting to see the resulting damage.
Brad Markovic/Toni Feaver have a solid lead in the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship sitting 47 seconds ahead of fellow Maximum Motorsport team mates John O’Dowd/Tom Wilde in second with Stephen Oxley/Michael Wood in third.