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The Honda Civic Type R crew of Eli Evans and Glen Weston shattered the tranquil surroundings of Bonnie Doon on Saturday, winning the fifth North Eastern Car Club Rally Bonnie Doon.

The event had made some significant changes to a pace noted format, attracting some of the big names in national and state rallying for a pre-season shakedown.  Recent rain had dampened roads, keeping dust to a minimum and providing excellent grip for the crews.

Spectators flocked to the official spectator location and the picturesque Lake Nillahcootie service park to catch a glimpse of the competing cars, as they challenged the clock and their skill over varying roads through the Mt Strathbogie and Mt Samaria areas.

A near capacity field of 54 crews started from the Bonnie Doon Hotel and headed to the new stages of Mt Samaria.  This, followed by the famous “Barjarg” stage from past years, left competitors grinning from ear to ear.

Evans and Weston, starting from Car 1 on the road, set the pace from Stage 1, with the only real threat coming from Jack Monkhouse and Dale Moscatt in their fast Datsun 180B SSS.  Monkhouse took 6 seconds off Evans in SS2 when Evans had a half spin, but fell back again in SS3, this time after Monkhouse spun, before an off road excursion by Monkhouse on SS4 damaged his steering, putting an end to his event.

Spectators were also wowed by the impressive Escort RS1800 of Grant Walker and Craig Thomas, as well as many other immaculate rally cars of the golden era of rallying.

2011 VRC hopeful, Warren Lee and David Lethlean, finished in second outright in their EVO 9 Lancer, 42 seconds back from Evans, with Derek Reynolds and Ray Baker a further 25 seconds behind Lee to claim third outright.

The Bendigo crew of Tony and Nikki Moore were the first Excel series crew home, ahead of 2010 Excel Series winners, also of Bendigo, Steve and Brent MacKenzie.

The event again attracted hundreds of people to the rejuvenated Bonnie Doon area, with Lake Eildon now nearing capacity, providing a boost for local business and accommodation houses.  The North Eastern Car Club is now looking forward to the 2012 event becoming an even bigger attraction to crews from across the country.

Photo: Hubble Photographix


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