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Lewana round likely to give competitors a muddy battle for points


Photo: Second placed Robert Webber and co-driver Toni Feaver in the Platinum Automotive Evo 9

Competitors in the Western Australia Rally Championship and Clubman Cup are now in the latter end of the 2015 rally season, with Lewana a crucial make or break round of the championship for some.
The six stages and 112.6 competitive kilometres of fast flowing gravel roads near Balingup has in the past tested competitors, particularly in wet conditions
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Leading the 4WD category is Garry Whittle and co-driver Stephen Vass in the Rezolt Subaru WRX. Their consistent and mostly trouble-free year has placed them 27 championship points ahead of Rob Webber and Toni Feaver in the Platinum Automotive Mitsubishi Evo 9.

While Webber is proud of his results so far, he says that he won’t be fiercely hunting for the championship lead.

“Our goal is always to finish the round, before we worry about where we are coming in the points. I’ve spent a lot of time and money building my car, and I’m not prepared to risk throwing it into the trees for results. Having said that, it is always nice to do well, and we’ve managed to finish on the podium two out of three events,” said Webber.

“The season hasn’t gone exactly as expected. We had a DNF on the second day of the Forest Rally. We have struggled to find the pace after that, but we’ve made some changes to the car and hopefully we can finish the season by regaining that earlier pace.

“I’m looking forward to Lewana, the stages are pretty good there - just as long as it hasn’t been raining too much. The conditions were quite atrocious last year, and we ended up slipping off the road. Even the notes we made last year will be very little use to us and we’ll be starting from scratch.”

The 2WD category is tightly contested, with only 9 points separating first from fifth. It is an all Toyota first place, with both the teams of Mark Travers and co-driver Tony Floyd in the LRT Custom Engineering Toyota AE86, along with Andy van Kann and rookie co-driver Madelin Kirkhouse in the Platinum Automotive Toyota TE26 sharing the lead on 69 points.

The placing comes as a shock to 60 year old van Kann who admits that he doesn’t have the same pace of some of his fellow competitors.

“I never ever expected at my age, and my speed, to ever be sitting equal first in the 2WD championship. I will not be sitting equal first by the end of the year, I simply just don’t have the speed, but no one will ever be able to take away the fact that right at this moment I am sitting equal first,” said van Kann.

“The points have gone better than expected this year, but the year itself has gone okay. It is just a case of doing what I always do – I prepare my car as well as I possibly can and I set out to finish rallies. The third thing that I don’t do which everyone else does, is go fast. I start rallies with one purpose – to finish. My thrill comes from preparing my car, out of finishing rallies and out of bringing young people into the sport.

“Lewana is a great rally, and a favourite of mine because I’m also involved heavily in the organisational side of it. Unfortunately because of its timing in the calendar the course can suffer badly from being wet and muddy. Last year the conditions made it quite treacherous and I suspect this year unless we get three days of perfect sunshine, I expect it to be quite wet again. My plan is to go slowly and just watch everybody else slip off the road. I’ve finished Lewana two years running in the top 10 simply by just finishing the event.”

Jason Lowther and co-driver Paul Lowther are currently leading the outright standings of the Clubman Cup, in the LRT Custom Engineering Toyota Corolla. In second place, is last year’s champions Carl and Tracey Rattenbury in the Rally Rats Ford Escort.

Mike Young will be a newcomer to the Lewana Clubman Cup round, although he is no stranger to the sport. Young is currently placed fourth in the Asian Pacific Rally Championship, and came second in the recent International Rally of Queensland. He and rookie co-driver Peter Barnes have borrowed a Hyundai Lantra for the event. 

“This weekend is more about the fun side of rallying. Nick Clements from Verendah Apartments has lent me his Hyundai Lantra and we are doing this as a bit of a boys’ weekend,” said Young.

“My co-driver and myself will be sharing the drive. Peter’s never driven before, so it might be like rally school as well.

“I co-drove in Lewana last year, but this will be the first time I’ve driven it. The roads in Western Australia are always a little bit different to other parts of Australia due to the ball-bearing like stones. Those stones are going to make the course incredibly slippery if it rains.”

The WA Rally Championship vehicles rally each stage twice, in daylight and again in the dark. Only 2WD vehicles are eligible for entry into the Clubman Cup, with competitors rallying without a recce during daylight hours.

For further information on the Western Australian Rally Championship rounds, road closures and results please refer to www.rallywa.com.

The Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship is supported by Healthway and the Quit message, Onslow Contracting, Verandah Apartments, Auto One and Performance Racegear.

[ENDS]
 
Media Contact:  Lauren Cornes, Pronto PR, lauren@prontopr.com.au, 0431 080 811
 
 
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:
  1. WA State Rally Championship
    All events are one day that start at 1pm and typically finish around 9pm. Night rallying is a feature.
    1. 4WD category
    2. 2WD category
    3. State Challenge – restricted 2WD category (no recce / pace notes)
       
  2. 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.
    1. 2WD category – no recce / pace notes
  3. State Rookie Driver and Co-Driver
    1. WA State Rally Champion Driver
    2. WA State Rally Champion Co-Driver
    3. Clubman Cup Driver
    4. Clubman Cup Co-Driver
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