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Leigh Hynes has claimed his third victory in a row by taking out round four of the WA Rally Championship, the LRT Custom Engineering Lewana Stages near Balingup, on Saturday.

The Busselton-based Subaru WRX driver has extended his lead on the WA Rally Championship but said it wasn’t an easy win because the roads around the old Grimwade townsite were unusually slippery.

“We had a few offs and overshoots, but so did everyone else,” Hynes said.

Wet weather in the lead up to the LRT Lewana Stages meant organisers made some last minute changes to the event. One stage was shortened by two kilometres and extra pace notes were provided to teams for another.

Despite the tough conditions, Dylan King came out firing in his WRX.

The 18 year old, who’s in his first year of Outright competition, took the first stage by one second but he was unable to match the pace set by Hynes for the rest of the event.

King was second fastest on the remaining five stages and took second Outright, while Brad Markovic, who missed June’s Experts Cup through injury, was back and came third.

Mark Davies, who was driving in the LRT Lewana Stages for the first time, had hoped for a big finish but got his WRX stuck on stage two while Gavin Morgan was forced to withdraw when his WRX’s gearbox got jammed.

In the two-wheel-drive competition, the battle was again between oncourse rivals Sean Keating in a Nissan Silvia and Razvan Vlad in a Ford Fiesta.

Keating, who recently fitted a new gearbox to his car, ran off the road early in the event and said he had to drive like a ‘maniac’ to reclaim the lead.

“We lost near on two minutes trying to push the car back on the road,” he said.

Vlad, who holds onto top spot on the 2WD Championship leader board, admitted he struggled with the slippery conditions.

“I just couldn’t find the grip to drive fast enough,” he said.

Geoff Leatt-Hayter, who finished nine minutes behind Vlad, was third 2WD in his Nissan 180 SX.

In the Clubman Cup competition held over four stages, there was a long list of casualties that included Jason Lowther and Daniel Adams whose Toyota Corollas suffered mechanical problems; and Nathan Pearce whose Corolla was damaged when it left the road on the first stage.

Nick King, who had the lead on the Clubman field of the LRT Lewana Stages heading into the final stage, was also unable to finish after his Ford Escort got stuck in first gear just four kilometres from the finish line.

Carl Rattenbury took the win in his Escort. Steve Vass was second in a Datsun 1600 and Mark Travers, who was actually fastest on three stages in his Toyota Sprinter, finished third after losing around four minutes on stage three.

“We hit a stump and got a flat tyre. Unfortunately it was too early in the stage to carry on we had to stop and change it,” Travers said.

Interestingly, the cars of the first and third place getters where built by the rally sponsor, LRT Custom Engineering.

The next WARC event is the Carringtons Safari Rally around Chidlow on October 12. It’s the final event of the season for Outright competitors but the second last for 2WD and Clubman Cup teams whose championships are decided after the Darling 200 in November.

In the meantime rally fans are getting excited for WA’s premier tarmac rally, Quit Targa West. The event is expected to attract up to 100 classic and modern cars and will be run around Perth, Toodyay and Bullsbrook from August 12 to 15.

Photo by Brian Percival

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