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It was a thrilling start to the 2018 RXAus.com.au championship as Michael Conway and Troy Dowell claimed overall victory in the Combined 2WD and 4WD Super Finals at Winton Motor Raceway in country Victoria. The fast-paced action saw back-to-back heats and quick lap times as drivers got to know the newly upgraded Winton circuit. Eighteen cars contested five races across a combined AWD Open and AWD Production group and two 2WD groups including the RXAus Excel class. The action-packed AWD Super Final saw a fierce battle for the lead between Cahal Carey and Dowel. Carey, led most of the six-lap round but was narrowly edged out by Dowel who emerged from the Joker lap 1.6s in front – eventually taking the victory by a margin of 1.83s. Michael Conway lead the 2WD Super Final charge ahead of Will Orders. Track updates, including the addition of the mandatory jump in the new section of the circuit along the service road between track Turns 3 and 4 (RXA Turn 1 and Turn 2) produced a strong start to the category’s second season.
Darren Windus

Darren Windus slides his VW Polo through the esses on the Winton rallycross track. Photo: Peter Whitten

Group A class winner Conway praised the track updates calling the track “good fun” and “a bit more challenging then it was last time with good close racing, which it always seems to be in the 2WD.” Conway, who has a busy year ahead, plans to contest as many RXAus rounds as possible with South Australia’s Taliem Bend likely to be his next appearance. “I’ll definitely go and have a look at Taliem Bend because it’s a new track. I’ll just play it by ear.” The day kicked off with two combined practice groups, where drivers took the opportunity to get a feel for the newly-created jump, before letting their cars fly during the two 2WD and combined 4WD qualifying. Switching gears from last year’s fire-breathing Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Will Orders took to the track in a freshly prepared Mazda 2, commanding the RXA 2WD practice and qualifying sessions.
Troy Dowel

Young gun, Troy Dowel, took at the all-wheel drive rallycross final at Winton. Photo: Peter Whitten

The brand-new EVO VII of Stoopman lost a damper during the first practice session, before making it back out on track for the 4WD qualifying. Mid-way through the qualifying session, Stoopman came unstuck, barrelling into the tyre wall just after the re-join from the Joker lap resulting in driver-side door damage. Stoopman’s bad luck continued, registering a DNF in Heat 3. The Hyundai i20 of Aaron Windus and Mitsubishi Evo of Danny Traverso also experienced issues during the 10-minute session, with Traverso stopping offline at the beginning of the Joker lap after nosing into the tyre wall and Windus limping home in the dying minutes. Windus was the first casualty for the weekend, suffering rear end damage after a hard hit coming off the jump in practice. Richard McNay lead the 2WD Group A Heat 1, which got off to a false start, and kept the lead across all four laps. In the 4WD combined session, the Hyundai of Troy Dowel was well in the lead before leaving the Joker until the last lap and was narrowly edged out by Volkswagen Polo of Darren Windus. The 2WD Group A Datsun of Simon Gardiner was the only DNF of the heat. Fresh from RallyX on Ice in Sweden, teenager Troy Dowel was a force to be reckoned with in the RXA 4WD Hyundai i20 entry, despite needing some time to get used to the new car. He started Heat 2 from third and quickly took the lead with a 1.52s gap. Dowel also took tops honours in Heat 3, just 1.09s ahead of Carey’s Mitsubishi Evo. “It’s a lot different this year because I’m in a new car with more horsepower and I’m just trying to get used to the car,” Dowel said. He plans to contest more RXAus.com.au rounds this season, but first heads to Norway tomorrow to continue his RallyX on Ice campaign.
Darren Windus and Arron Windus

Father and son, Darren and Arron Windus, discuss tactics after an early practice run at Winton. Photo: Peter Whitten

By the start of the Finals, most drivers were electing to bypass the jump, which proved to be a wild element through most of the day, causing damage to some of the 2WD entries. Troy Dowel continued his domination, opting to take his Joker mid-way through the AWD session holding out Carey by 2.07s and D. Windus by 5.89s. Carey, who would go on to win the AWD Production class division, on debut at Winton had an “excellent” day and is planning on contesting more rounds in the 2018 season. “It’s my first time here at Winton today and first time in the new car, so can’t complain the car is great. I had an excellent day and we’re going up to Marulan in a few weeks’ time and we’re looking forward to doing them all. Another driver, not only on debut at Winton but in the RXAus Championship is Fionnan McCallan, who won the 2WD Excel Class and is planning on starting at each of the seven rounds this year. “It was amazing, what a fantastic day. I’m going to find out where all the rounds and hopefully do as many as I can,” Fionnan said. RxAus will visit Winton two more times this year as part of an expanded 2018 calendar to include a visit to the new, purpose-built RallyCross circuit at The Bend Motorsport Facility an hour’s drive south east of Adelaide. RXAus heads to Marulan on April 28 for round two and the full event calendar can be found at rxaus.com.au. Class winners AWD Open 1 Troy Dowel AWD Production 1 Cahal Carey 2 Jamie Sargeant 3 Danny Traverso 2WD 1 Michael Conway 2 Will Orders 3 Andrew Murdock 2WD Excel 1 Fionnan McCallan 2 Leigh Garrioch 3 Nathan Senior

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