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In the final event of the NEC Australian Rally Championship, the Raymond Partners Accountants Rally Team have blown away the competition with their rapid pace in an ageing car.

The event, the NGK Rally of Melbourne held in the Yarra Valley, offered the Bendigo Bank crew of Glen and Matt Raymond a mix of fast and slow roads, including an array of surfaces which were subjected to Melbourne’s weather.

The crew blasted into the first group of stages, pushing the 15 year old Subaru Liberty well past its potential to be sitting in an amazing sixth place, including fifth fastest time outright on stage three, the fast blast down Don Road. To add to the excitement, the team were also leading the RaceTech Steel Victorian Rally Championship.

"To be so competitive against Australia’s best in old machinery is a real buzz," remarked driver Glen Raymond. "We haven’t had any real troubles, however the brakes have been getting so hot they are catching on fire!"

With a repeat of the same stages, the team was able to consolidate their position to remain in sixth outright and 1st VRC. The glory, however, was to be short lived, when a cam seal was found to have popped out and dumped all of the engine’s oil. A concerted effort was made to fix the seal during service, but on the next stage all the oil was lost, along with the giant killing result.

"Despite the retirement, to prove we can have the consistent speed is a real encouragement," stated team manager Roy Raymond as the service team prepared the car for Sunday’s competition.

Heat 2 was to be greeted with wet and slippery conditions, making the Bendigo Bank crew’s challenge even more difficult as the opposing cars have computer aided differentials, giving their cars traction advantages over the team's older Liberty.

All was well into the first stage until they caught another competitor who was having troubles. Despite the vast amount of time lost catching and passing the car and a slowly deflating front tyre on stage two, the crew were still able to be seventh outright and 1st in the Victorian Rally Championship.

They were able to hold onto this position for the rest of the rally, despite two stages being cancelled due to dangerous weather and a gear selector problem creeping in on the final spectator stage. After the car was checked and cleared through post-event scrutineering, the results were confirmed of seventh outright, 1st outright in the VRC component and 1st in class in both. The first outright in the State component also gave the team its first ever outright win.

"This a great way to end the year," said navigator Matt Raymond. "It’s great to show an old car can still match it with the new ones. We’ll definitely be out next year, maybe in some newer machinery and hopefully improve on the pace we have shown this weekend!"

The team would like the thank their sponsors, Raymond Partners Accountants, Bendigo Bank, JNJ Electrical Contractors, Quality Site Welding, Legible Signs, Mammi Motors and Vicparts for their support and encouragement.

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