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Port Macquarie driver, Peter Leight and Kempsey navigator, Brett Sutherland, have won this year’s BP Clybucca Rally which was held in the Tamban State Forest area north of Kempsey on Saturday May 26.

Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3, Leight and Sutherland took victory by 21 seconds after the eight stage, 112 km. competitive event. Coffs Harbour’s Nathan Quinn, co-driven by Sydneysider Wayne Parker, were second in their Mazda RX2, challenging the more technically advanced 4WD turbo cars throughout the event. The pair also finished as the first Clubman crew.

Third place was filled by Armidale brothers Adam and Grant Kennedy – it was their second outing in the ex-Peter Roberts Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3. They finished a further 19 seconds in arrears.

The event commenced from BP Clybucca in glorious Autumn sunshine but the four daylight and four night stages that lay ahead proved to be very dusty, with very little breeze to blow the dust away. Pre-event favourites Dave Darby and Shane Griffis were the leaders in their Lancer Evo 3 after the first four stages, with the Kennedys second , 35 seconds in arrears, followed by Leight/Sutherland and Quinn/Parker.

Armidale’s Steve Mitchell and Mickey Rourke (WRX) rounded out the top five. An early casualty was Lindsay Collitts and Shane Pearce after they inflicted substantial damage to their Datsun 1600 on a long right-hander 17km into the first stage. Coffs Harbour’s Bruce McDougall and Kellie Pearce lasted just 400 metres before the gearbox in their Hyundai Lantra failed.

Darby and Griffis continued to lead the charge following the service and mealbreak, but were forced out after stage six, also with a broken gearbox. The Kennedys, Car 8, were losing time with the dust, as were the majority of the field, but Leight and Sutherland quickly moved into the lead, which they held until the finish. Quinn/Parker charged through SS7, setting the fastest time which moved them into second place during the eighth and final stage.

Coffs Harbour’s Mal Keogh was back in  his former Datsun 1600 with co-driver Greg Wiseman calling the notes and, after admitting it was harder work than driving his previous Evo 2, finished a creditable fourth overall. Richard Opie, filling in for an injured Garry Yeomans in the Lancer Evo 4, along with Kam Baker, finished fifth, just one second behind.

The former Kempsey crew of Erkki Kytola and Pete Graham, brought their Subaru WRX home in sixth place, while last year’s event director, Paul Mountford, teamed up with David Witherdin (Toyota Corolla RV) and finished seventh overall and second Clubman crew. Peter Neal and Chris Cherry from Taree came home third Clubman and eighth outright in their Subaru Liberty RS.

Just three Gemini Series cars entered the event this year with the category being won by Timothy Wilkins and Scott Jackson from Sydney. They were 12th overall, 39 seconds ahead of Nick Opie and Nigel Walters. Leight and Sutherland finished first in the Northern NSW Rally Series, Quinn was second (driver only) and the Kennedys third.

Twenty six entries faced the starter with 15 making it back to the finish at the South West Rocks Country Club on Saturday night. One entrant who did not make it to the start was local driver Jeff Hawkins who was forced to retire due to illness. The Kempsey Sporting Car Club would like to thank the many volunteer officials who helped during the running of the event.

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