It was three out of three for Launceston crew Marcus Walkem and Damien Grimwood when they were victorious in the 2014 Hellyer Rally, round two of the Tasmanian Rally Series.

For the third year running, the crew were presented with the “Victor Huddlestone Cup” a North West Car Club time honoured award to the winner of the Hellyer Rally each year and in doing so take the lead in the State Series with two rounds still to be completed.

Walkem’s main opposition came from 3 various combatants and took the challenge right up to the Launceston based crew. First was Craig Brooks and Rebecca Sheldrick who came out all guns blazing with a time that was 8 seconds faster on the very first stage. But they were to take no further part in the rally as the orange Subaru’s engine expired right on the finish line.                                                                 

Next was Somerset’s Kade Barrett and Mitch Roberts in their extremely fast two wheel drive Plymouth Fire Arrow. Barrett was fastest on the next two special stages and second fastest on the fourth but an off road excursion and rollover on the fifth stage ruined any chance he’d had putting the older two wheel drive vehicle on the podium despite him rejoining the event for the afternoon and next division.

His times in the second division reflected his speed shown in the morning including fastest on the very last stage over the Black River but was left pondering what could have been.

Then Keith Abblitt and Adrian Hodgetts in Keith’s very recently acquired later model WRX STI. Their consistency was rewarded along with some top three stage times to end the day in second place only 1 minute 22 seconds in arrears. Third place went to Kurt Wylie in a similar Subaru who withstood the early challenges from his father Andrew in an identical car with the latter and more senior of the two eventually retiring with gearbox problems.

The two wheel drive honours and a fine fourth outright was taken out by Burnie crew Nathan Newton and Craig Sheehan in their Nissan Skyline who had a trouble free run and just held out the two visiting mainland crews of Bernard Miron/Andrew Omesher in a Subaru RX and Carl Stewart/Anna Ritson in Carls older but very competitive Datsun 1600. Both these crews loved the Tasmanian roads but weren’t quite ready to fully commit themselves over the many crests which were a bit foreign to them and roads they were used to. They also had in the back of their mind that they had to drive their cars onto the boat later that week.

Despite this, both crews performed very well and are very keen to return next year.

The two Daihatsu Charades in the field did a fantastic job and had a battle royale amongst themselves. The surprise package was Austin/Magor in their very first major rally who took it right up to and even was even faster at times than Peterson/Wilson who were expected to show them a clean pair of heels.

With round 2 run and won the Tasmanian Rally Series heads to the south of the state on the 16th of August for round 3.

The Hellyer Rally was also the second round of the North West Car Club Pirtek Rally Series for North West Car Club members and after two rounds there has been two different winners with Andrew Wylie winning the Mersey Valley rally and Keith Hodgetts the winner of the Hellyer rally club section. With one round left in the series to be held in the Yolla area in September, it is wide open.

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