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Leigh Hynes and co-driver Stuart Percival, in their RMS Service Centre Subaru WRX, took the top podium position after a close battle with James Anderson and Ben Searcy in the fourth round of the Western Australian Rally Championship at Donnelly River in the State's south west.

Held on July 28, the event was based around the picturesque Donnelly River Holiday Village and old timber mill. This was the first visit by rally cars to the magnificent logging roads since the ARC round used the area about twenty years ago.

Like most other state rounds, this event used the well-liked format of pacenote writing in the morning and rally in the afternoon and evening.  Starting car 1 on the road, Hynes and Percival were a little worried about the wet roads and the possibility of doing the first three stages before knowing any stage times of their competitors.

Therefore, a well calculated pace was needed which certainly paid off with the pair setting a second fastest time on SS1, third on SS2, then fastest time on SS3 to put them in second place outright, only two seconds behind the Anderson/Searcy Impreza.  Already 20 seconds further back was last year’s State champion, Alex Stone, sitting equal with another former champ, Dennis Dunlop, who was doing well in his Mitsubishi Lancer.   

The next stage to be run was the Shell Racing Solutions, SS4, at 23km. This was a very fast, flowing stage with an extremely fast finish, and cars were expected to reach speeds of up to 200kph. The spectator point was in this stage also, and the crowd certainly weren’t disappointed, with Hynes going through at 10/10ths to take a commanding stage win by a massive 15 seconds ahead of  Stone/Madlener.

Anderson/Searcy finished a further two seconds back, giving Hynes a comfortable 16 second lead heading into the mid-rally service.  

After service there was a delay due to an unfortunate accident requiring an ambulance to be despatched. Once a replacement arrived the event restarted, but unfortunately two stages had to be cancelled. It was a tough decision by organisers, but the correct one.  

Heading out of service with only two stages remaining, the Hynes /Percival duo decided on a steady approach for SS5, but they went a bit too careful, giving away 14 seconds to Anderson, leaving them with only a two second lead.  The final stage of the event was a repeat of SS4, so Hynes pushed hard again to take the stage by six seconds and win the event by a slender eight seconds, ahead of James Anderson/Ben Searcy,  with a struggling Alex Stone finishing 34 seconds behind Hynes.  

Asked how he managed such a great drive, Hynes said: "Everything worked really well. The Dunlop tyres and Drummond Motorsport Suspension just seemed to suit each other perfectly for the conditions. Plus, it’s now six events since I came back to the sport after a four year break, so I’m finally getting some confidence.

“Stuart did a fantastic job with the notes and the RMS Service Centre’s car preparation is spot on. The car was so easy to drive and with the super fast roads, your confidence just grows every kilometre.”  

Regular RMS Team manager, Bob Nicoli, was overseas but his shoes were filled by the experienced Jim Carlton who commented: “It was a perfect day! All the guys had to do was wash the car and put fuel in. The only problem they had was the spotlights started to flick on and off on the last stage. Leigh and Stuart kept a cool head to take a comfortable well controlled win, even if it was only by eight seconds. Win at the slowest possible speed, I told them at the start, and that’s exactly what they did!”  

The Western Australian Rally Championship points now have James Anderson on 127, Stone on 121 and Hynes on 115 with one round to go.  The final round is on October 20 in the Mundaring Forest using some former Rally Australia roads.

For all W.A rally results see www.duetime.com.au

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