Brooks survives snow to win Huon Rally
- 28th July 2008, 8:53am
The morning stages were blanketed by heavy mist which, combined with the horrific road conditions, proved to be a baptism of fire for all competitors in the event. The first stage was relatively incident-free, however the Charade of Brad Gunn and Fiona Mackie broke a driveshaft 150 metres from the start line, meaning a heartbreakingly early exit from the event.
Whilst the inclement weather conditions were testing, what lay ahead in stage two was a once in a lifetime experience for all competitors. The stage was held high in the Esperance Tiers and competitors were greeted with a blanket of six inches on ice and hard packed snow for much of the stage. In some instances, the crews could not even see where the road went due to the blanket of snow and ice.
The frozen road surface offered almost no grip and all crews reported having a number of close calls. The Lancer of Nick Kingston succumbed to the treacherous conditions, sliding into a ditch on a tricky downhill section, and Liam Coyle and Tony Horsham came very close to following him into the same ditch. The field was forced to creep through the stage, with survival being the only objective.
Following the first service, competitors were then treated to some drier and faster roads, allowing the crews to finally stretch the legs of their cars and find some rhythm.
Unfortunately Scott Newman fell victim to the changeable road surface, rolling his Charade on stage four. Luckily the damage was only cosmetic and the lunchtime break allowed for some hasty repairs to be carried out by his service crew.
Wally Philp, driving a Ford Cortina, was impressive during the slippery morning stages and despite hitting a bank on stage four, he held a strong position going into the afternoon stages.
The first stages after lunch were fast and flowing and allowed the leaders to stamp their authority on the event. However, they would prove to be the last for both Liam Coyle and Shane Russell, destroying the gearboxes in their WRX and Lancer within 500 metres of each other. Both crews cited the slippery and rough road conditions as the source of the expensive failures.
With the majority of the four wheel drive competitors succumbing to the trying conditions, Craig Brooks in his Impreza WRX drove a measured and controlled rally, managing to score a well deserved victory. Second went to Philp in the Cortina, and Aaron Reader scored a well deserved third in his Mitsubishi.
Brooks’ win almost certainly guarantees him victory in the state title and is just reward for his commitment and investment in the sport shown in recent years.
The final round of the series is set to be battled out in the forests around Scottsdale on September 13. The grand finale of the season is sure to be an event not to be missed, with many crews looking to finish a very tough season on a high note.
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