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Glenn Brinkman and Steve Richardson took a dominant victory in their Subaru Impreza WRX at the Goodyear Auto Service Centre Classic Rally on September 9 – round 5 of the 2006 City Subaru Queensland Rally Championship.

With their chief protagonists, Steve Shepheard/Tom Smith, exiting the rally in SS4 with what appeared to be a damaged gearbox, Brinkman/Richardson ran away with the event, ending up over eight minutes in front of the second place-getters, Ian Ogilvie/Tony Best (Datsun 1200), with Colin Hunter/Margot Knowles (Jeep Renegade) in third.

A field of 30 QRC entrants and 13 Clubman/Gemini starters lined up in the small town of Kilcoy on Saturday morning for what was the last of the traditional Gallangowan rallies in its known form. A minute’s silence was respected in memory of Peter Brock, who sadly died the previous day at Targa West.

With the Forestry Office pulling out of the Gallangowan district after this year, the site of more than 20 annual events will become little more than a ghost-town. Kilcoy proved to be a viable alternative for the start of the event, enabling the field to use some of the trickier roads in Jimna, on the way up to the great route selection in Gallangowan.

As the penultimate round of the QRC, the race was likely to be on in earnest between Shepheard and Brinkman on this event. Paul Bergmann drafted Cameron Reeves into the left hand seat for a rare outing this year in a WRX from the Callinan stable, while Ian Menzies/Bob McGowan were adamant at the start that a finish in this event was the plan.

Other regulars included Gaines/Doyle (240K), Graf/Thompson (Evo 5) Scott/Danials (Corolla), Ogilvie/Best (1200) and Colin Hunter who had QRAP Chairman, Margot Knowles, calling the corners in the off-road Jeep.

Ten stages made up the event, with the first two on twisty driver’s roads in Jimna separated by a service, then the balance of the event in Gallangowan where four stages were each repeated.

SS1 was ‘Have A Go’ and Shepheard and Brinkman drove away from the rest of the field to establish a lead of over a minute. Their respective times were just 1 second apart, with Brinkman taking the initial stage win. Ralph French/Scott Beckwith had entered the rally after much work fitting a replacement engine following the Yeppoon drowning, but a squashed exhaust saw them lose 20 minutes to the rest of the field while they made their way out of the stage.

Shepheard and Brinkman raced away on SS2, adding another 30 seconds to their combined leader position.

Bernie Graf barely managed to complete the stage before running out of fuel, and then hitched a tow back to the service area behind the Hunter Jeep. Although Graf completed the event, he later withdrew due to the outside assistance.

A service and re-group followed back at Jimna, but Brinkman/Richardson incurred a five second penalty for booking in late, and handed the slim lead to Shepheard. A long liaison up to Gallangowan followed, with the first short stage (Brimms North 1) going to Shepheard – although fourth gear stopped working in the stage. Paul Bergmann’s Subaru was retired with continual overheating problems.

A delay occurred before the start of the 20km long SS4, and as Shepheard made the half-way point of the stage more gears were lost and the car was parked for the day.
The stage also claimed the Gemini of Mark Joyce/Myles Frost and the Corolla of Rob Dixon/Peta Davies who hit a tree head-on. Fortunately no injuries were recorded.

With the demise of the GSA Lancer, Ian Menzies stepped up to the plate and drove brilliantly on roads where the Falcon could stretch its long legs. Surprising many with his speed at starting position 18 was Nathan Quinn in his RX2. Nathan, son of past Coffs Harbour legend Martin, was driving very well with local Ronnie Peters calling the corners.

The five daylight stages comprised the necessary kilometres for the City Subaru Clubman field, and the Silverstone Tyres Gemini Series. In a very tight contest, Gary Stacey/Tony Blackshaw (Datsun Sunny) picked up where they left off at Yeppoon and took the category win, just holding out the hi-tech Mazda 323GTX of Alan Clunes/Gavin Weiland by 18 seconds. Amazingly, only four seconds back was the Mazda RX2 of Dave Ovenden/Cate Kelly in third place.

Darren Jones/Julie Woodworth (Datsun 240K) grabbed fourth, and Anthony Tanzer/Greg Donald (Escort) rounded out the top five.

Close finishes were the theme of the day and in the Gemini class, Cameron Sluce/Charles McAlister held off the TF version of Jamie MacFarlane/Larisa Skyring by just 2 seconds! Third Gemini went to Gideon Street and Daniel Grisinger.

A total of eight Geminis finished for the category which was probably the highest degree of success for the little Holdens in many rallies. The event continued from the Gallangowan oval with five more night stages to be run, and likely dust problems given the dryness of the region.

As the night stages commenced the running order was:
1. Brinkman/Richardson – 56:15
2. Menzies McGowan – 58:50
3. Graf/Thompson (still running at this stage) – 59:13
4. Quinn/Peters – 59:52
5. Gaines/Doyle – 60:00

As car one on the road Brinkman increased his lead by 32 seconds on SS6. French/Beckwith had repaired their car and under the regulations had rejoined to get some competitive kilometres under their belts. Menzies took the outright stage win on SS7 from Quinn and Gaines with Brinkman in a relatively distant fifth.

On SS8 and SS9 Brinkman/Richardson continued to drive cleanly and consistently to add to their rally lead, while Menzies did likewise – looking to consolidate a good finish. While Graf was still competing at this time, Gaines smelt the hunt and began seriously chasing down the time gap – unaware that the Evo 5 would be withdrawn at rally end. Unfortunately for both the Falcon and Datsun 240K drivers, the last stage proved their undoing.

Menzies set the big Ford up for a relatively simple turn, but the car dropped into a gutter and in an instant rolled up and over. They were unable to regain the road but their great drive had come to nought.

Gaines and Doyle broke a throttle cable on the start line and spent nearly twenty minutes replacing it, also impacting on a great drive and forfeiting a likely top five finish.

In the end, Brinkman and Richardson consolidated their effort with another stage win to run away with first place. Graf/Thompson nominally finished second but withdrew as a result of the outside assistance received earlier in the day.

This elevated the team of Ian Ogilvie/Tony Best to a personal best result in the diminutive Datsun 1200 – second outright. Colin Hunter and Margot Knowles claimed third, just four seconds adrift. Fourth place then went to Tony Scott/Matt Danials who also continued with giant-killing performances in their small-capacity Corolla DX.

Keeping up with their contemporaries in the little 2WD cars were Stacy/Blackshaw in the Datsun Sunny to round out the top five.

The Classic class was a little less busy than usual with only three finishers listed in the results – Ian Ogilvie/Tony Best (Datsun 1200) won, from Gary Meehan/Greg Gifford (180B SSS) with Gaines/Doyle (240K) rounding out the top three.

The end-of-rally celebrations continued well into the wee hours of Sunday morning, as the rally community soaked up what is likely to be the last Gal langowan party.

The QRC continues with the final event at Gympie on November 4.

*These results are provisional, and a protest regarding eligibility has been lodged following the finish of the event.

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