Teams in the Make Smoking History Forest Rally roared off from the Bunbury start line to the delight of local crowds who turned out yesterday evening to see the action.
The Bunbury Super Special stages combined parts of both Bunbury Speedway and the Autocross track to form a tight and technical 1.8km course for the 45 rally teams to cut their teeth on before they head out today into the forestry roads of Nannup.
WA Rally Championship
John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver took three stage wins and were the fastest overall. O’Dowd said the Skoda Fabia R5 performed well on the challenging course.
“The car is absolutely awesome,” said O’Dowd. “It’s a great car, a lot of fun and makes me look good!
“It’s tricky out there, but it is the same for everyone. We’re enjoying it. It’s tight and twisty, and you can’t afford to make a mistake – otherwise, you’re into those tyres!
“I missed out on a podium last year by half a second. So, if I can improve on that this year – that’d be great. But, we’re not too worried – we’re going to go out and run our own race, and if we finish, that would be great.”
Craig Rando and Stephen Wade finished second place 14.2 seconds behind the leaders, while Kody Reynolds and Anthony Staltari finished with a 15.3 second gap. Both teams were driving Subaru WRX STIs.
WA 2WD Championship
With less than 10 seconds separating the Top 3 in the WA 2WD Championship, it was evident that there will be some close battles within the category this weekend.
Despite its light backend, Mike Joss and Megan Logue managed to keep the Nissan 200sx straight enough to post the fastest time for the category.
“It’s been an awesome tight and twisty little stage and great to see so many people have come out to watch,” said Joss.
“My two greatest challenges tomorrow will be Glenn Alcorn in the Escort and also the rain.
“We won the Championship last year, and you can’t do much better than that, but we have the same aim to win again, and we’ll see how we go.”
Glenn Alcorn and Jonathon Charleston in the Ford Escort are just 2.4 seconds behind the leaders, with Gary Mills and Mitch Gray have a 9.2 gap in the Ford Fiesta.
Glenn Cawood and Murish O’Connell’s event could not have started better, setting the fastest time on all four stages in the Mitsubishi Lancer.
One of three Hyundai Excel driving teams in the category, Michael Connor and Eden Hughes will be working tomorrow to close the 14.4 second gap they have to the leaders.
Currently sitting in third with a 17.8 gap is Bruce Lake and Peter Hall in the Datsun 240Z.
A tight battle is unfolding in the Clubman Masters with Carl Rattenbury and Ashley Burton in the Ford Escort Mk1, narrowly beating Ludlam and Hynes in the Mazda powered Datsun 1600 by only 3 seconds. Finishing the night in third for the category is Tom Wilde and Andy Van Kann in the Toyota Corolla TE27.
The Make Smoking History Forest Rally will continue Saturday when the 45 teams tackle 121kms of forestry roads in and around the Nannup region. For information on where best to view the rally, please consult the Spectator Guide [link].
The Forest Rally is sponsored by Healthway and the Make Smoking History message, Tourism WA, Shannons and the Shire of Nannup.
For further information on the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, please visit forestrally.com.au