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The 2017 Pedders Suspension Rockhampton Wowan Rally proved to be a car breaking affair, but Ian Menzies and Robert McGowen in their 2003 Mitsubishi Evo 9, took the win.

Ian Menzies comprehensively won the Wowan Rally. (Photo: Sam Tickell)The Wowan Rally opened the 2017 MRF Tyres Queensland Rally Championship after the first round was delayed.

37 entries took to the start of the rally, with seven of the eight slated stages being run.  The fast and dusty rally took its toll on competitors, with only 23 finishers.

The rally was all about Ian Menzies in his Evo 9, dominating the stages, taking every stage win.  Particularly impressive on these quick roads was the final stage - stage 7. Running first on the road, he made the most of clear vision to win the stage by almost a minute.

In the end, he took the win by 3 minutes, 23 seconds from Tony Scott and Jay Davidson.

Scott and Davidson put in a particularly impressive performance in their 2WD 1982 Toyota Corolla DX to take second place, and winning the 2WD category. Their flamboyant style saw them outpace many more fancied competitors.

Third was Todd Webster and Ryan Preston (1995 Subaru Impreza), who ran a clean rally to take the final place on the podium

But it was bad news for Gerard McConkey in his newly converted 1999 Subaru WRX. Together with co-driver Erik Johnsson they were running second until the end of SS4 - Mandalay.  They had made it through the stage, but were caught out in a creek crossing after the stop point.

The crossing was a little deeper than expected and most cars made it through. But McConkey’s Subaru took in some water. While they were able to affect road side repairs, it was a setback for the duo, running second at the time. Issues mounted when they lost their exhaust on the final stage. They would fall back and in the end, would finish fourth.

Marius Swart would have a rally to forget in his VW Polo S2000.  Expected to feature in the final results, Swart’s alternator failed on SS2 and his rally ended there.

There was a heavy crash for the #23 Mazda RX2 of David Ovenden and Bruce Tyler. The car left the road at speed on the Grantleigh test. Ovenden was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, but was released a short time after.

The delay from this accident resulted in the final stage being cancelled.

The other new cars of note were Melinda Bergmann and Larisa Biggar stepping up to a 2001 Mitsibushi Evo after running a Subaru Liberty in the past. They would end up ninth after suffering differential problems and sensor issues that made braking quite unpredictable.

Nick and Mitchell Tomkinson’s 1990 Audi Quattro ran well for the Rockhampton father and son duo.  The Audi was dramatically modified with the radiator now in the back of the car, but they made it to the end of the rally, in third last.

Cameron Henry and Michelle van der Wilk were also in their 1999 Subaru WRX for the first time, taking out the novice class. There was a big scare for the team on the final stage after hitting a kangaroo. While the light bar was destroyed and there was some panel damage, the car survived.

In the other classes, Steven van der Burg and Dave Page won the Multi-club class in their 1999 Subaru.

Classic was taken by Ian Goldsworthy and Dennis Neagle’s Holden Gemini, and Clubman was taken by Brad Hurdford and Ray Priest’s Ford Falcon.  Junior was won by Wayne Morton and Megan Benson’s 2008 Toyota Auris.

The next round of the championship is the rescheduled Manumbar Rally, that will take place in June.

- Sam Tickell

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