The Buckby Subaru Challenge revved into life at Round 1 of the Dunlop - Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship, The Lifestyle Builders Southern Safari Rally, with teams undertaking reconnaissance of the course on the Friday. Teams were allowed two passes over each stage to tidy notes in preparation for the event proper.
On Saturday morning teams awoke to showers, but the weather didn’t dull the excitement to be back behind the wheel. Nic Grave with last minute fill in co-driver Gareth Sutcliffe and Ben Newman with Steve Glenney beside him continued on from where they finished off last season, separated by just over two seconds after the first stage in Graves favour. The dark horse crew of Pete Nunn and Keith Johnstone surprised everyone, jumping out of the box early and taking a further 4 seconds out of Graves time. The team of Scott Newman/Tim Kulhanek driving the Buckby Guest car drove consistently to finish heat 1 in 3rd place, behind Newman and Graves respectively. After 8 stages only 3.4 seconds separating the two.
Elliot Ritchie/Doug Austin improved their pace, posting consistent stage times until a minor off left him stranded (but luckily undamaged) mid stage. Pete Nunn was the most unlucky, putting his car on its side at the spectator point on Special Stage 8. They were able to put the car back on its wheels and limp to the end, but the damage was done. Crichton Lewis/Anthony Carr suffered fuel issues early in the day and retired from Heat 1 with a split fuel line. He was able to limp back to service to repair and restart Heat 2. The teams of Troy Johnson/Bec Sheldrick, Bill Fulton/Jase Milner and new comer to the series John Lakeland with John McIndoe beside him rounded out the leader board.
Heat 2 only consisted of two stages, a repeat of Special Stage 1 Lovetts and the final being a 22Km combination of the Old Hastings and Creekton stage. Once again Ben Newman set the benchmark, setting a time of 7 mins 14.6 Seconds, with Graves just 1.8 seconds behind and Nunn a further 10 seconds behind after replacing the rear suspension from the earlier altercation. Scott Newman and Crichton Lewis were the best of the rest a further 9 and 11.5 seconds back respectively.
Going into the final stage, just 5.2 seconds separated Ben Newman and Nic Grave with Newman having the upperhand. Once again it was Newman who dominated the stage taking another 11.7 seconds out of Grave. Pete Nunn, Scott Newman and Crichton Lewis rounded out the Top 5 for the heat.
Ben Newman convincingly takes out the first round of the 2018 Buckby Subaru Challenge, Nic Grave in second place and Scott Newman in his first foray into the world of Subaru All-Wheel-Drive, rounds out the podium in third.
The Buckby Subaru Challenge is a one make series based on the 2001-2005 Subaru Impreza RS 2.5i. It is the perfect entry level vehicle for those considering the world of Gravel Rallying. The rules enable safe, cost-effective racing on an even platform. A ready to rally car can be purchased for under $20,000 with parts easily accessible and affordable. Get in contact with Buckby Motorsport for more information.
Written by Tim Kulhanek - Buckby Subaru Challenge
Photo courtesy of Angryman Photography.
Photos from TRC1 - the Lifestyle Builders Southern Safari Rally are now available to purchase from Angryman Photography.
Visit the album directly by going to http://www.angrymanphotography.com.au/f404148363 and choosing the car number you want to view.
Despite being faced with changeable conditions, the young pairing of Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm have won the first round of the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship, the Lifestyle Builders Southern Safari.
The pair won by over 5 minutes from their closest rival, but the large winning margin did not reflect the competition in the event. Tim Auty and Jon Mitchell provided close competition throughout the morning loops.
Their Mazda 323 GTR had been upgraded in the off-season with new gear ratios, resulting in better drivability. They won 4 of the first 6 stages to hold a 15 second lead over Reading into stage seven. Unfortunately, an indiscretion at the end of the stage resulted in damage to the front right and retirement.
With only two of the top five championship finishers in 2017 entering the event, there was opportunity for other crews to take the challenge up to the two leaders. Ben Newman and Steve Glenney drove consistently and fast all day. A push on the final stage saw them leap to second outright in the Subaru Impreza RS challenge car, a very impressive result which showed the capability of the one-make Buckby Subaru Challenge cars.
Third and first two wheel drive were Stephen Turner and Mitch Newton in a Ford Fiesta R2. The pair set third fastest times on the first two stages and were never out of the top six despite the slippery conditions favouring the four wheel drive vehicles.
Nic Grave had a number of challenges leading up to the event, including an eleventh hour co-driver change. With Gareth Sutcliffe substituting in his first ever gravel rally, the pair drove fast all day, and missed out on the podium by just 0.4 seconds in the second of the Buckby Subaru Challenge cars.
Fifth on his four wheel drive debut was Motor Magazine’s Scott Newman, who drove the guest Buckby Motorsport Impreza RS with Tim Kulhanek beside him. Returning to gravel competition for the first time in 26 years was Peter Nunn, in a borrowed Subaru Impreza RS. Despite the gap in competition, he set very impressive times including second outright in stage seven, however, fell out of contention with time lost through a roll over on stage eight. A rare mechanical DNF was also experienced for the Buckby Subaru Challenge cars with Crichton Lewis having to withdraw through heat one with fuel line issues.
The two wheel drive class was a race of attrition, with defending champion Matt How retiring his upgraded BMW M3 at the end of stage four with mechanical issues, whilst local hopeful David Oates rolled his Datsun 1600 in stage 3 whilst third in two wheel drive. Nathan Roddam and Nicole Bryan produced a giant killing effort in their Hyundai Excel over the high speed stages to finish second in the two wheel drive class.
The championship is set to move to the opposite side of Tasmania for Round 2. The classic Hellyer Rally, run by the North West Car Club, is scheduled for May 12 in Smithton.
Photos courtesy of Angryman Photography.
The 2018 Tasmanian Rally Championship kicks off this weekend with the Lifestyle Builders Southern Safari Rally. Formerly a round of the Australian Rally Championship, it has since returned to the TRC calendar. The event is Australia’s most southern rally, being run from the township of Southport. Crews will look forward to 110 kilometres of competitive driving over 10 stages.
With 2017 champion Eddie Maguire not contesting the first round, the field will be led by two of the most improved drivers in the championship. Huon Valley driver Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm will attempt to defend their win from last year in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Hot on his heels will be Devonport’s Tim Auty and Jon Mitchell in the rapid Mazda 323 GTR.
In the Buckby Subaru Challenge, 9 drivers will contest the opening round. Defending title holder Nic Grave and Craig Sheahen will face fierce competition from the Buckby Motorsport prepared cars of Ben Newman and Steve Glenney; and Crichton Lewis and Anthony Carr. Joining the regular crews will be Motor Magazine’s Scott Newman, who will reunite with former co-driver Tim Kulhanek, and Targa competitor Peter Nunn, who makes a welcome return to gravel competition.
The two wheel drive field is very strong, consisting of front and rear wheel drive cars from the 1960s to the present day. Hobart’s Matt How has upgraded his BMW to M3 specification over the summer break and will start as favourite in the 2WD category, but will have a number of challengers. Former Australian junior championship competitor Stephen Turner has entered his Ford Fiesta R2 for the event and local driver David Oates is always spectacular on home soil in his Datsun 1600.
The cars will depart the Southport Hotel from 10:00am with the first car due to finish at 4:30pm.
The information and views set out in the listed articles are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Tasmanian Rally Championship, associated partners, the Tasmanian Rally Panel or its member clubs.