Western Australian Rally Championship contenders play it safe and smooth at Lewana round
(Photo: Brad Markovic and Glenn Macneall in the Maximum Motorsport Subaru win the round outright. Credit: Paul van der Mey)
The Lewana round of the Western Australian Rally Championship and Clubman Cup gave competitors a pleasant surprise, with many going into the round prepared for a tough, muddy battle similar to last year, but finding conditions on the 112km course to be close to ideal.
Despite the favourable conditions, many of the championship frontrunners still showed an element of restraint in their driving – not wanting to risk any time or point advantage they possessed.
Brad Markovic and Glenn Macneall in the Maximum Motorsport prepared Subaru WRX were the victors managing to hold onto an early lead over the rest of the field.
“The first two stages were the best I have driven,” said Markovic.
“We found ourselves in a unique position having a one minute lead after only 30kms. We said to ourselves 'well it is up to us to lose it from here' so we just conserved and kept out of trouble.
“It was a very good weekend and it has finally all come together, so I'm pretty happy about that. We could not have asked for a better rally really. The whole format of the rally was sensational, it’s a compact rally and the roads there are great - as long as it isn't wet and miserable.
“From a championship perspective, I don't think there is any point conserving, we've got to go out and win the rally. It is eyes forward for us - focusing on what we can do, and what we can control and that's going as fast as possible.”
It was a successful day for Maximum Motorsport also coming in second place, with John O’Dowd and co-driver Ben Searcy sitting just under a minute and a half away from the leaders in their Subaru WRX.
The tussle for third was closely watched by all, with the Championship Outright one, Garry Whittle, and two, Rob Webber, keeping each other in their sights. In the end it was Rob Webber and Toni Fever in the Platinum Automotives Mitsubishi Evo 9 that claimed the last spot on the podium.
“We were running second at one point, but I think all of us were pretty close. I almost felt like I was being a spoil sport when I piked out of the battle with Rob Webber by backing off in the end. It was my choice to go easy on the car and make sure it would get us to the finish line,” said Whittle.
“I’m happy where we are sitting in the championship, and the priority now is to keep the lead we've got. From now on we're looking to hold position, but we are trying to do that without being too boring - we're still out there to race!”
(Photo: 2WD first place, Mark Travers and Tony Floyd in the LRT Custom Engineering Toyota AE86. Credit: Paul van der Mey)
Current 2WD Championship leaders Mark Travers and Tony Floyd had a smoother than they expected run in Lewana, claiming first place by just over 5 minutes in the LRT Custom Engineering Toyota AE86.
“We found the course to be reasonably technical. It felt quite slippery when we were doing reconnaissance in the road car. We were preparing for the worst, but in the race car it wasn’t that bad,” said Travers.
“We experienced brake issues in the first stage which caused us to lose a bit of confidence in the car. There were a few dramas at the start of the event, and a couple of little issues at the end, but the in-between bit was okay.
“It is important for us to place well in the next two rounds to be able to secure a championship win, and that's what we want to try and do. It will be a steady, steady kind of thing and see how we go.”
Shane Harmer and Nicholas Anyan claimed second place in the Onslow Contracting Holden VH, which saw Gregory and Deeann Flood in the Greg Flood Electrical Mitsubishi Lancer taking out third.
“We’ve got a little battle going on with Floody which makes life interesting,” said Harmer.
“Although this weekend I think his battle with me was the second thing on his mind. He got out of the car at the end of the fourth stage and looked absolutely wrecked, like he had the flu or something. So for him to finish was pretty amazing.
“The course was ten times better than last year - you could actually drive it, last year it felt like you were just a passenger in the car.
“We ended up with a busted fuel tank by the finish. It started leaking and the exhaust leaked but that was it. Otherwise, we got through relatively unscathed.”
The Tom Wilde and Nick Clements duo had a frustrating weekend, with their Verandah Apartments Honda Civic being struck with an electrical problem on the night stage.
“We lost all headlights and the car went into limp mode at the same time on SS5. It was really disappointing because we were 8 seconds in front, and I really like the night stages as well!” said Wilde.
“We couldn't even tag along behind passing cars, because we just didn't have the power to keep up with them. It’s some electrical gremlin. At least we’ve got a bit of time to get it sorted before the next round now.”
(Photo: Lewana round Clubman Cup winners Jason Lowther and Paul Lowther in the LRT Custom Engineering Toyota Corolla. Credit: Paul van der Mey)
In the Clubman Cup, round winners Jason Lowther and Paul Lowther’s LRT Custom Engineering Toyota Corolla had a stressful lead-up to the Lewana round, when their car came close to not making it to the start line.
“We had a bit of a rough lead up to the event,” said Jason Lowther.
“The vehicle wasn't actually going until the morning of the rally. We had some fuel dramas and an engine management problem. Luckily, Leigh Hynes came down to the rally to give us a hand to tune it. Whether we would have been able to start was touch and go for us.
“Last year the course was terrible, this year it was magnificent. There were a few rough patches but nothing major. The roads were in really good condition, fast and flowing smoothly. It was a well-done, awesome event all round actually.
“The season is going really well. Two wins plus a second and a third. I reckon we are right where we want to be.”
It was a slim winning margin of just 24 seconds for the Lowther’s, with Rally Rat’s Carl and Tracey Rattenbury once again in touch with the leaders throughout the round. Third place was claimed by gravel rally newcomers Mitchel Clarke and Stuart Clarke in the Bunbury Sharpening Service Datsun 1600.
“Donnelly was my first gravel rally, and we got stuck on the first stage of that. This round went better. We did have a few dramas on the last stage with an engine valve spring, so that's why we were a bit slower on the last stage,” said Mitchel Clarke.
“We really enjoyed the roads - a bit muddy but good fun!”
The Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship is supported by Healthway and the Quit message, Onslow Contracting, Verandah Apartments, Auto One and Performance Racegear.
For full Lewana Stages results, please consult www.rallywa.com and follow the links to the results page.
The Carrington Safari is the penultimate round of the Western Australian Rally Championship and Clubman Cup, and will be held on October 10. For more information about this round, please visit the RallyWA website.
Media contact: Lauren Cornes, Pronto PR, 0431 080 811, firstname.lastname@example.org
|Notes to Editors
2015 Rally Calendar
| 27 March
|| Quit Forest Rally
| 9 May
|| Trade Hire Donnelly
| 30 May
|| Newmont Boddington
| 27 June
|| Experts Cup
| 25 July
|| LRT Lewana Stages
| 10 October
|| Carringtons Safari
| 14 November
|| Darling 200
The WA Rally Championship has three main categories and awards trophies to top finishers in each sub category:
- WA State Rally Championship
All events are one day that start at 1pm and typically finish around 9pm. Night rallying is a feature.
- 4WD category
- 2WD category
- State Challenge – restricted 2WD category (no recce / pace notes)
- Clubman Cup
Clubman Cup is half the length / distance of the WA State Rally Championships. Events start at 1pm and typically finish at 5pm. This category is more accessible to enthusiasts and encourages those without the budget to compete in the WA State Rally Championships to rally.
- 2WD category – no recce / pace notes
- State Rookie Driver and Co-Driver
- WA State Rally Champion Driver
- WA State Rally Champion Co-Driver
- Clubman Cup Driver
- Clubman Cup Co-Driver