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Rally Australia round gives Hayes and Macneall a frustrating time


Photo: Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes unable to find the pace. Credit: Photo courtesy of Australian Rally Championship

Last weekend’s Rally Australia round of the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) was disheartening for local WA co-drivers Bill Hayes and Glen Macneall, with both their teams suffering from mechanical gremlins that were hard to pinpoint.

Bill Hayes said both he and driver Molly Taylor went into the event hoping to diminish the eight point championship lead that Eli Evans and Glen Weston held over them. However, they struggled to translate great drives into great times.

“It was fantastic to be at Rally Australia, and we’ve come away with good points - but it was a really frustrating weekend from a championship point of view.  We felt we had prepared well for that event but we just weren't on the pace, and haven’t been able to pinpoint why,” said Hayes.

Round winners Eli Evans and Glen Weston had a disastrous start to the weekend when they crashed on the ArmorAll STP Power Stage. But, that was the last of their dramas for the weekend and after a quick fix of their car, they were back on the start line the following day where the rest of their event went smoothly.

“Eli has a safety buffer in the points table now. He won't be able to back off at Rally SA that's for sure, but he does have a bit of an advantage,” said Hayes.

“Our crew all worked as hard as they could to try and find where the issues were coming from, but nothing was staring us in the face. Going into Rally SA, we've got a couple of options engine-wise to look at, and we will be deciding on the best one to suit the rally.

“The main competition are running turbo charged engines, where we run a naturally aspirated engine - maybe the gap between the two is starting to get bigger as they spend more time with their cars and they improve as well. From inside the car, I personally felt that Rally Australia was the best Molly has driven all year, but the pace just wasn't there this time.”

Taylor and Hayes finished the event in third place, 4 minutes 18 behind Evans and Weston. The sibling duo of Steve and Brent Mackenzie split the two teams in second place.

Mark Pedder and Glen Macneall’s event was frequently interrupted by mechanical mishaps which plagued their Peugeot 208 Maxi right from testing and finally saw them retire from the event on the last stage.

“Even though the car is in development we weren't expecting to have as many problems as we did. However, when the car was running well - we were up there!” said Macneall.

“It was a bit unfortunate really, the first two days we weren’t able to do much at all. The new car has given the service crew lots of little gremlins to try and fix.

“We spent a couple of hours on Saturday night going through and trying to iron out the issues, and the car ran pretty well on Sunday. We almost made it to the finish - we were one kilometre from the end of the last stage when it stopped again. Other than that, we actually won all the stages in the 4WD section of the Australian Championship. So the car is showing potential but we've got a little bit of work to do yet.

“Now the event is over, we're back to the drawing board - the car should be ready in time for the next round.”
The Hyundai i20 Proto of Justin Dowel and Western Australian co-driver Toni Feaver was also was unable to finish the event. However, Feaver was upbeat saying they were able to sufficiently test the new vehicle and were happy with the car’s development.

“About 35 kilometres into the first stage of Leg 2 we caught Ashlea James, and then followed in his dust for 10 kilometres which lost us a fair bit of time. We booked in ten minutes early for the next stage which gave us a penalty.

“For the next stage we were the first car out. It is a 50 kilometre stage, so we wanted to make the most of the situation to see if we could get a proper feel for the car with no dust.  Justin did an absolute awesome drive and it is probably the best stage I've ever done in 20 years of rallying!

“Once we got to the end of the stage it sounded like the front suspension was about to fall out, and the rear diff whine was horrific. If we didn't have the penalty, we would have continued and fixed the car, but with the ten minute penalty we thought we'd call it a day.”

Feaver and Macneall will now be focused on the next round of the Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship on October 10. Feaver, who is currently the leader of the WARC Co-Drivers Championship, will compete with Robert Webber in the Platinum Automotives Mitsubishi Evo 9. Glenn Macneall will be taking up his regular co-driving seat for Brad Markovic in the Maximum Motorsport Subaru STI.

For more information on the Carrington’s Safari round of the Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship please see www.rallywa.com.
 

[ENDS]

Media contact: Lauren Cornes, Pronto PR, 0431 080 811, lauren@prontopr.com.au
 

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