Hard-fought Begonia Rally victory for Dowel
- 14th March 2012, 8:38am
Perfect conditions after recent rain greeted competitors as the event got underway with a 1.5km sprint around the Ballarat Autocross track. Dowell took the early lead in his EVO 9 Lancer by 1 second over Wayne Stewart and Lucus Zinstagg in their Subaru Sti Spec C and Tristan Penhall and Jolie Middleton in their older GC8 WRX. Another 3 crews were all just a further second back in what would set the scene for a close battle all day.
The Raymond brothers took the first forest stage win, by 6 seconds over Warren Lee and David Lethlean in their EVO 9, while Stewart was equal 6 seconds back from Raymonds. Andrew Bell and Correne Seabrook in their 2WD Commodore showed that local knowledge and a ballsy drive would put pressure on the leading 4WD crews and place them 4th O/R in Heat 1. Their super quick stage times would come to an end with a broken Panhard rod on SS10.
Dowell went on to win Heat 1 by 33 seconds over Raymond, with Stewart just a further 12 seconds back. Bell took out 2WD honours with Brian Semmens and Dan Parry in 2nd while Alan Friend and Michelle Canning finished in 3rd. The Hyundai Excel Series Heat 1 win went to Andrew Thompson and Simon Barton-Ancliff.
Dowell was amazed at the speed of the current VRC crews and found himself pushing hard to get the heat win “Coming back to ‘Blind’ rallies is really hard after 5 years on pace notes, I certainly found the faster flowing stages more to my liking and was able to pull back time on those stages. ” said Dowell.
Heat 2 was a repeat of the 6 forest stages and another clean run by Dowell didn’t do enough to hold of the charging Raymonds, who took out the heat by 6 seconds; however Dowell’s 33 second lead going into Heat 2 was enough to hold on to win the event outright by 27 seconds. 3rd in Heat 2 was Lee, while in 2WD Semmens held off the Mackenzie brothers in their new Ford Fiesta, with Neil Cuthbert and Robin Smalley rounded out the top 3.
Thompson and Barton-Ancliff held off Anderson/Anderson and Dykes-Frayne/Fernie in the Hyundai Excel series points for the event.
The EXEDY VRC now heads to Gippsland for Round 2 – The George Derrick Memorial Rally on Saturday 31st March. Keep up to date on vically.com.au or live results at www.rallyresults.com.au/vrc/2012/mobile.
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