The battle for the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship continues this weekend with the penultimate event, the Rocky Cape Sprint Rally.
Organised by the North West Car Club, the rally encompasses a new concept for the Dunlop-Motul TRC, with the event consisting a single heat of 50 competitive kilometres, using roads in the forests surrounding Rocky Cape.
Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm continue to lead the championship, however, have proven vulnerable during the past two events, with off road excursions in 3 of the past 4 heats damaging his championship lead. Tim Auty continues to chase the Reading Subaru, after winning his first ever rally at Subaru Rally Tasmania. The Mazda 323 GTR has proven to the be the fastest car in the field, however, mechanical dramas at the first two rounds have left them playing catch up. Anthony Carr replaces Jon Mitchell in the co-drivers seat for this event. Steve Maguire and Stuart Benson will again campaign their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V that finished second outright at the Hellyer Rally, whilst Kurt Wylie and Keegan Buckley will provide further competition in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
In the two wheel drive field, championship leader Mark Kyle will be under siege from the trailing Nathan Roddam (Hyundai Excel) and Stephen Turner (Ford Fiesta R2). Roddam and Turner have already dropped their 2 worst heats for the year (with non starts), whilst Kyle has scored consistently in each heat. Hellyer Rally 2WD winner Kade Barrett and 2016 2WD champion Lee Peterson have also entered Rocky Cape, creating an exceptionally strong field. In the Buckby Subaru Challenge, Nic Grave holds a strong lead from Ben Newman, who is not competing at this round. Bill Fulton will provide a challenge for Grave, with Bill’s pace improving from round to round, whilst Elliot Ritchie will welcome younger brother Fraser into the co-driver’s seat. The event will also see a strong club rally field behind the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship, led by Peter Barrett and Melissa Weldon, whilst 3 teams will also take part in an Introductory Rally component of the event.
The first car will leave at 11:00am from the Rocky Cape Tavern and is due to finish at 4:00pm. Spectators will be able to see 4 different corner configurations from the central spectator point. More information can be found in the Spectator Guide.
Jamie and Simon Vandenberg have won the second round of the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship, the Tall Timbers Hellyer Rally. The second oldest, and arguably most experienced crew showed their younger rivals a clean pair of heals in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. IX as they drove a fast and clean rally to emerge as the victors of the event. In doing so, they also claimed the treasured Victor Huddlestone Memorial Trophy.
Tim Auty and Jon Mitchell looked to be certain winners in their Mazda 323 GTR, until it’s dreaded reliability issues again came to the fore. Having created a lead of over half a minute heading into the penultimate stage, the Mazda suffered differential issues which dropped them to thirteenth in the TRC field. The Vandenbergs inherited first place, and stayed there by winning the final three stages, which were regarded as the most slippery of the rally.
Stephen Maguire and Stuart Benson drove a consistent rally in their Evo 5. The duo stayed out of trouble, and finished every stage in the top five, netting them second overall for the weekend. Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm took the lead after the first two stages, but was overhauled in stage three by Auty. The next two stages saw an excursion through a farmer’s fence and into a field on the penultimate corner on stage four which cost time, whilst an altercation with a tree in stage five further cruelled his chances. They were able to hold on for third with a second hand looking WRX. Kurt Wylie and Elli Wilson did well to hold onto fourth outright, with their Subaru struggling with an intermittent cut out during the day. 2016 champions Keith Abblitt and Adrian Hodgetts had to withdraw from the debut of their new Evo 8 due to centre-differential issues and co-driver illness.
In the Buckby Subaru Challenge it was expected that Nic Grave and Ben Newman would continue their battle with Grave winning the first stage and Newman hitting back to claim the second. However, the rest of the field had other ideas. Targa podium getter Michael Pritchard and Adam Butler had a large impact to the rear on stage one, but continued on, winning three stages to secure second for the event.
Crichton Lewis and Anthony Carr also performed strongly to secure a stage win and finish third overall. Bill Fulton and Jason Milner showed impressive pace before an off road excursion saw them fall out of contention but the cruelest blow was for Newman. After winning heat 1 by 1.2 seconds, Newman and co-driver Steve Glenney crashed and became stuck on stage five, which handed Grave and co-driver Reubecca Sheldrick the win and fifth outright.
In the two wheel drive category, a close contest was anticipated between championship leaders Stephen Turner and Mitch Newton in a Ford Fiesta R2, and local team Kade Barrett and David Guest in their Plymouth Fire Arrow. Barrett won the first stage in convincing fashion before he lost four minutes with throttle issues on stage two. It was expected that Turner would overtake the stricken Fire Arrow on the stage, however he became bogged on the side of the road before reaching Barrett. He lost 40 minutes and any chance of outright victory. This left the Datsun 1600 of Mark Kyle and the Daihatsu Charade of Aidan Peterson to battle it out for the first heat, with Kyle the victor by six seconds. However, the drive of the day belonged to Barrett. Chasing hard, he made up over three minutes to finish third in Heat 1. In Heat 2, Barrett set a string of top five stage times, including a second fastest, to elevate him to sixth outright for the event and third in Heat 2. Kyle and Peterson continued their close duel, with Kyle beating Peterson by 14 seconds to be second two wheel drive home.
In the fight for the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship, Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm extended their overall advantage, with Nic Grave, Ben Newman and Stephen Turner fighting for second place. The championship moves to Launceston on the 27th-29th of July for Subaru Rally Tasmania and the return of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship to the state of Tasmania.
The Tall Timbers Hellyer Rally will be one of the most fiercely contested in years this weekend, with a quality field assembling to tackle the smooth forest roads west of Smithton. Teams will contest 8 competitive stages and 140 kilometres of roads in the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship’s second event in 2018.
Championship leaders Bodie Reading and Alex Malcolm will start as the favourite in his Subaru Impreza after winning the first round in fine fashion, however, they will need to re-adjust to blind-rally navigation, with their last road book event being the Hellyer last year.
Chasing Reading is a field of strong challengers. Tim Auty will be looking to put his round 1 mechanical gremlins behind him and again challenge Reading for the win in his Mazda 323 GTR. Former champions Jamie Vandenberg (Mitsubishi Evo 9) and Keith Abblitt (Mitsubishi Evo 8) will also be in contention for the win, as will young duo Kurt Wylie (Subaru Impreza) and Steve Maguire (Mitsubishi Evo 5).
In the Buckby Subaru Challenge, all eyes will be on the enthralling duel between Ben Newman and Nic Grave. Newman won the Southern Safari Rally by a very small margin, however, Grave is competing in home territory and will be hard to beat. Targa Tasmania podium finisher Mike Pritchard is a welcome return to the series for this round, and produced strong results in his previous event, whilst Crichton Lewis will be looking to avenge his DNF from round one.
Stephen Turner currently leads the two wheel drive class in his Ford Fiesta R2 after a strong showing in round one, however, he will have a number of strong challengers for the class win. Fresh from a podium finish at the Alpine Rally of East Gippsland, Kade Barrett will enter his rare Plymouth Fire Arrow and should be hard to beat. Entries from Aidan Peterson (Daihatsu Charade), Mark Kyle (Datsun 1600) and Bill Cromarty (Mitsubishi Lancer) further enhance a quality two wheel drive field.
The first car will leave the Tall Timbers Resort in Smithton at 10:00am on Saturday, the 9th of June.
Spectator Guides are available at Tall Timbers and tasrally.com.au
The Tall Timbers Hellyer Rally will run on the June long weekend, after being granted approval to move dates from CAMS State Council. The original scheduled date was unable to be used, forcing the North West Car Club to find a replacement date.
"Although it is frustrating to change the calendared date for all involved, I think that running on the 9th of June, the long weekend, will suit many competitors" said event director Nathan Newton.
"This has opened up many new opportunities for the event, and will provide competitors that extra day to travel back home from the event".
A perennial event in the Dunlop-Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship calendar, the Hellyer Rally will spend its second year based in Smithton, following a successful relocation to stages in the far north west in 2017. This was the first time that roads in the region had ever been used in a rally, and proved to be popular, with road characteristics being compared to Finland with lots of crests and very smooth, open roads.
"Despite the popularity and success of the event in 2017, we still aim to improve the event each year. The route of the stages has been reconfigured, with many new additions in stages, which adds to the adventure. Those that were here last year are still going to find plenty of road they haven't seen before".
Whilst the start and finish of the event remain at the popular Tall Timbers Resort in Smithton, the service park has changed location, moving to Tarkine Forest Adventures in Dismal Swamp.
"One issue we had last year was that the service park was not ideal with the large rainfall we had leading up to the event. With the event moving date, we have been able to approach Tarkine Forest Adventures to use their car park area as the service park. They are usually closed for winter, but have agreed to open up for the event. Competitors and service crews will be able to take advantage of the great food and drinks they have on offer in the cafe during the service breaks."
The North West Car Club is appreciative of the sponsors and local community that have again got behind the event, which is one of the biggest sporting events in the region.
"We are really looking forward to returning to Smithton this year and we look forward to a fun event for all involved".
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.