Dust a major factor in Lewana Stages rally
- 7th May 2009, 3:56pm
The second round of the WA Rally Championship, the Lewana Stages rally, will be remembered for the extremely dusty conditions. With visibility down to just a few metres in some places, organisers made the decision to cancel the last two stages which would have been run in the late afternoon, and for some competitors, at night, potentially making the conditions even worse.
Utilising the front running course cars, the event director asked for the second of the course cars to report back as to the driving conditions. Even with a four minute gap the choking dust was still just hanging and the decision was made to cancel the final two stages.
Although some competitors were disappointed with the cancellation, others commented that having to drive very slowly in many places, and come to a complete stop in others, was no way to go rallying.
The event attracted jut under 30 competitors and included a round of the Clubman Cup Series.
The schedule was to be four stages run twice with three services throughout the day.
Eventual winners and defending champions, Hynes and Percival, were on the pace from the word go, taking every one of the six stages run. On the longest test the pair were over a minute quicker than the next car - a brilliant effort considering they were car four on the road and had to deal with the dust.
Heading the field away at car one, Steve Oxley struggled for most of the event and was never in the hunt. Current championship leader, Derek Reddie, put in a series of second and third fastest times to grab second place for the event and maintain his lead in the series.
After heavily damaging his WRX on heat two, the Quit Forest Rally last month, young gun Tom Wilde took an understandably cautious approach to this round and came home with sixth place outright. Lee Mcilroy, another in a Subaru, would battle the conditions and take third place at events end. A string of top four stage times helped that crew to stay in touch with the overall championship standings.
Long time competitor, John Macara, was the only driver to even get close to the rally winners times. The Mitsubishi man pushed hard to be within a few seconds on a couple of the tests but lucked out with a big problem on the longest stage, and then eventually had to retire with engine failure.
The Clubman Cup section of the event consisted of the first four stages. A good battle between a couple of the teams eventually saw Datsun 1600 man, Gary Whittle, take out that class.
The next event on the calendar for the WARC will be the pacenoted Experts Cup round held in Collie.
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