Central Coast driver Darren Gee drove his Lance Evolution 7 to victory in the 2011 Oberon Pacenoted Rally. Teamed for the first time with Nowra’s Matt James, the combination won all but one special stage to record a comprehensive victory from the Subaru Impreza of Leigh Gotch and Roger Pederson.

The 2011 Oberon Pacenoted Rally was held in wet, wintery conditions on Sunday 29th May. The event format consisted of a Saturday Recce followed by a Prologue for starting positions. The rally itself kicked off early on the Sunday morning. The event was promoted by Nissan Datsun Drivers Club.

Based out of the small township of Black Springs, the crews tackled stages which changed in surface from blue shale gravel to slippery red clay. The stages  weaved in and out of the tall pine trees and into clear-felled areas which added further uncertainty for the drivers as to how much traction was available.

Toby Goldburg and Craig Van Munster scorched the prologue to record fastest time in their Nissan Silvia. Goldburg would lead in the rally into Sunday with engine tuning guru Scott Kuhner second on the road. Sam Hill returned to the sport to co-drive for Kuhner in the Lancer Evo5. Gotch and Pederson (Subaru) were at three, with Tim and Peter Joass fourth on the road in the Lancer GSR. This event was only Tim Joass’s second run in the car and after a debut 3rd Outright once again showed his speed.

Darren Gee didn’t contest the prologue choosing instead to wait for parts to arrive from Sydney to repair the Evo7. Gee was stranded in recce with a front wheel assembly failure. Organisers seeded him at ten on the road behind the flying Mirage of Gavin Neale and Brendan Thomas, but it didn’t stop Gee from storming through Sunday’s first stage and recording a stage win.

Hot on Gee’s tail was rally stalwart Carlos Casmiri in the Lancer Evo 4. Carlos had enlisted the services of experienced co-driver Arron Topliff and was running on pacenotes for the first time. It appeared that this style of rallying suited Carlos and he was committing to the roads.

When the rally settled Gee held a comfortable lead from Gotch. A battle for 3rd raged between Adain Falvey/Paul Crehan (Evo7). Kuhner and Casmiri with only 3 seconds separating the trio at the half-way point. Goldberg, Newman and Joass all were in striking distance.

Irishmen Falvey is a noted NSW State front runner and was commenting on the how slippery the roads were. Falvey was using the event to gain both pacenote experience and as a hit-out for the State Championship Bega rally.

Leigh Gotch was impressive on the stages, yet unable to match the pace of Gee. He was coming to grips with the new Subaru and recorded a stage win on SS5.

The onset of rain hurt the chances of Goldburg in the Silvia. He found competition in the form of Paul and Shaun Newman (Evo4) and Tim Joass.  Goldburg and Newman both recorded 3rd fastest stage times during the event,  whilst Tim Joass struggled for consistency in his first pacenoted event.

Gavin Neale (Mirage) and Richard Troup/Russell Hannah (RX2) rounded out the top ten.

After 8 cruelling stages, and almost 100km of changing conditions all starters finished the rally, which is a testament to the quality of the field and the preparation of the vehicles.  Darren Gee was elated to win his first rally outright, Gotch’s debut in the Subaru was successful as he netted an impressive second and Carlos Casmiri ambushed Scott Kuhner in the last stage of the rally to score a narrow 3rd Outright.

Gavin Neale and Brendan Thomas took 9th Outright and Class 2 in the little Mirage, Brad Arnold and Stuart Smy 11th O/R and 1st Class 3, Toby Goldburg and Craig Van Munster 7th O/R and 1st Class 4.

1st Gee/James (Evo 7) 57.54
2nd Gotch/Pederson (Subaru) 58.47
3rd Casmiri/Topliff (Evo4) 59.33
4th Kuhner/ Hill (Evo 5) 59.55
5th Falvey/Crehan (Evo7) 100.03
6th  Joass/Joass (GSR) 100.21
7th Goldburg/Van Munster (Silvia) 100.55
8th Newman/Newman (Evo4) 101.46
9th Neale/Thomas (Mirage) 102.37
10th Troup/Hannah (Rx2) 103.42

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