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The Cowra Services Club Rally of Cowra - Round 3 of the AMSAG Pipe King Rally Series - has been run and won over the blisteringly fast shire roads and challenging forestry roads to the North East of Cowra.

With perfect rallying weather greeting competitors on both days it was going to be a fantastic event in which any one of the 43 starters could have taken out the event, as it would take a consistent and measured drive to come out on top after over 235km's over 15 Stages over 2 days.

The field were lead out from the start by Michael & Chris Long as car number 1. After their breakthrough win at the previous event in Bathurst they were looking at capitalising on their good form while trying to hold off defending series champion Brad Goldsbrough who had Aaron Topliff beside him for the ride. Going off previous form it would be an interesting fight between these two as to who could take out the win, but alas it was not to be as the weekend progressed.

As always there was a plethora of eager drivers waiting for the pace setters in this years respective championships to make a mistake, but it was clear from the start of the first stage that it was the driver that could handle the mix of fast flowing shire roads and rough and rocky forestry roads the best that would come out on top.

As always the AMSAG Pipe King Southern Cross Rally Series was run as a single event but with 2 categories, Classic & Modern fighting it out for outright positions in their respective championships.

DAY 1 – Classics

From Stage 1 it was Goldy setting the pace, and with the Long’s sweeping the road for him in front, the job was made a little easier, however it would end up being mechanical issues that would stop Goldsbrough and again take him out of the Rally of Cowra for the second year running. The first two shire stages were very fast and flowing, suiting the driving style of Goldsbrough in his Datsun 1600, which is flat out attack.

Once the event headed into the forest though it was a matter of push when you can and back off to preserve the car over the rocky sections. The first two forestry stages were a tight battle between Goldsbrough/Topliff, Bill Brown/Trent Murphy & young Rookie Series contenders Jayke Skeffington and Mark Patroni, all in Datsun 1600’s setting the top 3 stages times.

Not far behind them were the Datsun Stanza of Michael & Tim Valentine and the Mitsubishi Galant of Mark Bramble & Michael Bannon, who incidentally were leading the Classic Championship leading into this round. Stage 5 was again won by Goldy, with Skeffington close behind in 2nd, taking out 3rd fastest on stage was Bramble in the Galant, after having to replace a bent control arm damaged the stage before, he started to make a move up the leader board.

Stage 6, the first of two re-runs through the first forestry stage spelt the end of the event for Goldsbrough/Topliff after damaging the gearbox. This was the second mechanical retirement in two years at Cowra for Goldy, making his chances of retaining the Classic Championship just that little bit harder with only 2 rounds to go in the series. Benefiting from Goldy’s misfortune was Jayke Skeffington, who stepped up to the lead from Bill Brown by just over 30 seconds, with Bramble/Bannon a further 4 minutes behind.

The remainder of the days stages saw Skeffington & Brown swapping stages times right up until the last stage of the day when a heart breaking mechanical issue saw Skeffington on the side of the road, unable to make it to the end of the stage he took the maximum time, slipping him down to 7th overall.

After a hard day of rallying it was Brown/Murphy in front of Bramble/Bannon by 6 Minutes, with Mick King & Brett Maytom in the V8 Skyline close behind in 3rd only 42 seconds adrift. Jim Middleton & Kate Murphy in a Holden Commodore sat in 4th place after a blistering move up the leader board, and father and son team of Michael & Peter Batt rounded out the top 5 also in a Holden Commodore.

Day 1 – Modern

The day started out well for the Long Brothers from Sydney in their Subaru Legacy, setting the fastest stage time on the first stage and 3rd fastest on the second stage to jump out to an early lead over Gerald Schofield/Jim White in a Mitsubishi Evo VI with Andrew Williamson/Roger Pederson close behind in 3rd closely followed by Mark Callinan/Matt Wilson in the beautiful sounding BMW in 4th.

Long again set fastest on the first forest stage, however the Subaru gave up the ghost on the 4th stage of the day with drive train problems. Williamson/Pederson also went out of contention on the same stage with drive train issues. This promoted Callinan to first overall in the Modern Field with his light and nimble BMW proving to be the fastest over the remainder of the days stages. He didn’t have it easy though, chasing him down were a trio of cars, headed by Dan Vrubel/David Parsons in a Subaru WRX, Brothers Matt & Adam Young in a V8 Holden Commodore and Joshua Hilton/Rod Vanderpoel in a Front Wheel Drive Toyota Corolla. Throw in Schofield and Dave Roberts/Paul Mallos in the mighty Hyundai Excel and the Modern Category was alive and kicking.

At the end of Day 1 it was Callinan/Wilson at the front of the Modern Category, with Schofield/White second just under 12 minutes behind. It was clear that the BMW would take an emphatic first win barring any mistakes on the second day. What would be interesting to watch would be the battle for 2nd and 3rd outright in the Modern Category with the gap from 2nd to 4th under 1 minute either car could take the final two podium positions.

Day 2 - Classics

The final 5 stages of the event would be held on the magnificent and blindingly fast shire roads, with two runs over two stages followed by a quick blast around the Woodstock Speedway to end off the day.

Brown/Murphy took a comfortable lead into the last day, but could not afford to rest to easy, with a simple mistake at the high speeds obtained on the highway like roads could end in disaster, and with Jayke Skeffington back running after fixing his issues from the previous day he would be looking to claw back some time. Brown took the first stage by 6 seconds from the Valentine’s in the Stanza after they also suffered problems, rolling off the road on Stage 5 the day before. 3rd fastest was Skeffington showing how much potential this young Newcastle driver has. The second stage saw Skeffington go the fastest, with Bramble/Bannon 2nd fastest and John Hills in the superb BDA Escort 3rd fastest.

After a quick service it was a re-run through the first two stages of the day, again it was Brown who was fastest on with Skeffington only 1 second behind, however this time is was Mick King in the thundering V8 Skyline coming in 3rd fastest on the repeat of the first stage. The re-run through the second stage was again taken out by the Skeffington/Patroni Datsun with Bill Brown and Mark Bramble dead heating for equal 2nd fastest.

It was then onto the Woodstock Speedway for three loops around the dirt motorcycle oval. This was all for show with the crowd pleasers definitely being the big V8 & V6’s of King, Middleton and Batt. However the fastest time was set by Bathurst team Steven Wells/Adam Geary in their Ford Escort setting the fastest time for both the Classic and Modern Categories!

In the end it was Bill Brown/Trent Murphy in their Datsun 1600 on top of the Classic Field taking their first ever outright win in the AMSAG series. Second with also their career best finish was Mark Bramble/Michael Bannon in their Mitsubishi Galant and closing off the podium was Jim Middleton/Kate Murphy in the Holden Commodore.

Day 2 – Modern

For the Modern Category, it was again a dominant lead heading into the final day by Mark Callinan/Matt Wilson in the BMW, but again a small mistake or a puncture and it would all be over. All four shire stages of the second day were taken out by Gerald Schofield/Jim White in their Evo VI, with Callinan, Vrubel & Young swapping 2nd and 3rd fastest times.

Onto the Woodstock Speedway and again it was Schofield on top with John Joyner/Chris Warwick taking second fastest also in a Evo VI, 3rd fastest was Dan Vrubel/David Parsons in their Subaru WRX. The biggest cheer from the crowd came when Dave Roberts/Paul Mallos threw their little Excel into the sweeping left hander onto the main straight keeping a beautiful drift around the corner at full noise followed by a thumbs up from Dave as they straightened up onto the straight.

At the end of two days of competition it was the BMW of Mark Callinan/Matt Wilson who took out their first Outright win in the Modern Category ahead of Gerald Schofield/Jim White in the Evo VI, Matt & Adam Young took out 3rd place in their V8 Holden Commodore.

A huge thanks needs to go to all of the local RFS members who assisted with Start & Finish Controls and Road Closures, without their assistance this event would not have been as successful as it was. Thank you also to the teams of AMSAG officials for their assistance over the weekend. Thanks also to Event Director Peter Crich for putting on another great Rally of Cowra. And finally a big thankyou to the major event sponsors Cowra Services Club, and our Series sponsor Pipe King.

The next round of the AMSAG Pipe King Southern Cross Rally Series will be held on Sunday 4th of October on the Long Weekend in the magnificent forests of Eden on the NSW South Coast. If last years event was anything to go by, this event will be a cracker.

For competitors interested in upcoming AMSAG events as part of the 2009 Pipe King Rally Series you can also find more information about the club at the website AMSAG website

Results:
Classic
1. Brown/Murphy              Datsun 1600
2. Bramble/Bannon            Mitsubishi Galant
3. Middleton/Murphy            Holden Commodore

A. Flint/Dowsett            Datsun 120Y
B. J. Hills/Anderson             Ford Escort BDA
C. Wells/Geary            Ford Escort
D. Skeffington/Patroni        Datsun 1600

Open
1. Callinan/Wilson            BMW
2. Schofield/White            Mitsubishi Evo VI
3. Vrubel/Parsons            Subaru WRX

OT4 Joyner/Warwick            Mitsubishi Evo VI
O2R Young/Young            Holden Commodore
O2F Roberts/Mallos            Hyundai Excel

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