National Capital Rally round in Canberra
[Photo: Taylor and Hayes overcame differential problems for a fourth place on the weekend. Credit: Subaru Australia]
The contingent of Western Australian rally competitors crossing over to compete in the Kumho Tyre Australian Rally Championships (ARC) has grown considerably this year, with six WA locals making the start line for the National Capital Rally round in Canberra last weekend.
After a short Super Special Stage running along Lake Burley Griffin on the Friday night, competitors continued Heat One on the Saturday through pine forests with fast flowing rough red tracks. Both the landscape and pace contrasted the next day with Heat Two held on tight technical limestone tracks.
Last year’s Western Australian Rally Championship co-driver champion Toni Feaver (WA) was the first Western Australian to retire from the round, when the Activ Rallysport Hyundai i20 Proto she was co-driving for Justin Dowel (VIC) broke a propshaft on the start line ending their event.
Everything was going to plan for the ETS Racing Fuels team of Simon Evans (VIC) and Ben Searcy (WA) on the Saturday, winning the most amount of stages in their Subaru WRX for the heat. It wasn’t a completely smooth event for the team though when they left the road in Heat Two, putting them out of the hunt for top podium spot.
“After a sensational day on Saturday with Simon driving like an absolute gun, Sunday was a disappointment when we went off the road,” said Searcy. “But the determination to get going again along with the massive effort by the crew was rewarded with a third place podium finish. I can’t wait to get to the next one!”
Searcy leads the co-driver’s championship after the event, four points ahead of Queensland’s John McCarthy.
Heat One wasn’t without its frustrations for Molly Taylor (NSW) and Bill Hayes (WA), when late in the afternoon the Subaru Do WRX started feeling tail happy and losing drive due to a failing differential. This gave the Maximum Motorsport team of Tom Wilde (WA) and Sam Hill (NSW) a chance to continue to close the gap on the Subaru Do team to come equal fourth for the event.
“We were the only frontrunners to have a faultless run and that’s a testament to Maximum Motorsport’s car preparation,” Wilde said.
“At the end of Heat Two, we wanted to try to beat her, but we didn’t want to push too hard and do any damage.”
“We ended up taking nine seconds off her in the final stage and finished just 0.4 seconds behind her overall.”
The event didn’t go as well for the other Maximum Motorsport team of Brad Markovic (WA) and Glenn Macneall (WA) when they retired early with suspension problems. It was particularly disappointing for the team after the mammoth effort required to get the vehicle ready after it caught fire during the Quit Forest Rally round.
“We tried a mixed suspension setup, using a set of front suspension we have as spares to try and combat the problem, but it didn’t feel good,” he said.
“In Heat Two, the car was all over the place on the first stage. We made the decision that it was getting too dangerous to drive. It struggled under braking and wasn’t stable.”
It was the Victorian team of Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino who impressively took top spot on the podium for the weekend despite not having access to first or second gear on their Subaru STI for the majority of the round.
“We were thankful that none of the start lines were on an uphill incline,” joked Reeves.
Both Ben Searcy and Tom Wilde will be back in Western Australia to take up co-driver duties in this weekend’s MRF Tyres Boddington Rally.
The next round of the Kumho Tyres Australian Rally Championship is the International Rally of Queensland on June 17 – 19.