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The Australian Tarmac Rally Championship for 2012 has been run and won at the fourth and final round in the series, the Lake Mountain Sprint, over the weekend of November 24 – 25.

Emerging victorious over the weekend’s 11 runs up the twisting alpine summit road were Tim Hendy and Joanne Sibley in their Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R, while the outright national championship crowns went to Clinton Arentz and Peter Burrey (Modern, Evo X) and Keith and Alex Morling (Classic, Ford Escort).

In total contrast to last year’s sodden conditions, the weekend began under clear skies and near 30-degree sun. Hendy/Sibley were fast straight out of the box on Saturday morning and cracked a 4:40 flat up the mountain, with the hard-charging Evo IX of Danny Traverso/Tim Kulhanek only seconds behind. The Evo VI of Daniel Lemish and Samantha Stevens stepped into third; Lemish in his rally debut after swapping seats with wife Samantha, who won the first round, Mt Baw Baw, at the start of the year. The pair battled with Championship leaders Arentz/Burrey throughout the day, with Tim O’Conner and Gareth Sutcliffe in a Subaru WRX, rounding out the top five.

The pressure of the high-speed, high altitude climb woke the hungry mechanical gremlins on day two, lunching on the Evo engines of Lemish/Stevens and O’Neill/Nicholls and putting both cars out of the race.
The leading GTR of Hendy/Sibley suffered a puncture on SS8, however the process of dropping the worst run for final scores kept them safely in the lead.

Traverso/Kulhanek had a narrow escape the day before when their clutch cable pulled off the gearbox but the car was helped back onto the road by Arentz’s TMR service crew. But Sunday saw the exhaust manifold open up, and Traverso was forced to nurse the sick car up the mountain to keep his championship hopes alive.

By the final stage, Hendy and Sibley finished at 47:00, with Traverso/Kulhanek holding on to second on 48:33, Arentz/Burrey third on 49:15, O’Conner/Sutcliffe on 50.20 and the Evo 5 of Gerry and Leigh Burges rounding out the top five on 51.03.

In the class battle, the 2WD category was won by Tyson and Clayton Aldenhoven in a Honda Integra; Early Modern by Hendy/Sibley; Classic was won by Keith and Alex Morling, and the Modern 4WD category was taken out by Traverso/Kulhanek.

The outright Australian Tarmac Rally Championship standings saw Arentz/Burrey in first, Traverso/Kulhanek second, Hendy/Sibley third, Keith and Alex Morling fourth and first in Classic, and a tie between Samantha Stevens/Bernie Webb and Paul Dowie/Nicole Bryan for fifth.

The Australian Tarmac Rally Championship promises to be bigger, faster and better in 2013, with all rounds as multi-stage events and providing great value for money, enjoyable social atmosphere and events, and brilliant new stages.

Entries are now open for round one, the Mt Baw Baw Sprint, on March 2 – 3. The new-format Lake Mountain Sprint is scheduled for May 24 – 25, with the Great Tarmac Rally on October 26 – 27, and the Snowy River Sprint on November 23 – 24.


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