A good start was undone by a tree stump at the Karri Rally with John O'Dowd and Toni Feaver taking second place overall and maintaining their lead of the WA Rally Championship.
A self-confessed slow starter, O'Dowd was jumped by Mike Young on the open stage, but the Skoda driver edged the Kiwi to claim the fastest time on stage two. It was stage three, the second pass of the 22km Mooralup stage, that changed the course of O'Dowd's rally.
"We'd been going pretty well and I was really happy to get fastest on stage two. But we hit a tree stump on stage three, about half-way in. It damaged the right-hand front tyre and steering", commented O'Dowd.
"We managed to make it to the end of stage three and then change the tyre. But there was damage to the steering, so it was in the back of my mind to make it back to service. There's a long, 170 km/h straight in stage three, and all we could do was hope the tyre held until we could change it. Surprisingly enough I don’t think it slowed us down that much."
"We were pretty much losing time to Mike for the rest of the event. The one positive is that we didn't lose points to Ben Searcy or Craig Rando. Those guys are not too far behind in the points. We've just got the Safari Darling Rally at the start of November. So if we can claim second there, we'll have enough points to claim the 2020 championship."
"It's been great to have Mike in the series. It must be disappointing for him not to be competing internationally this year. But he has really put me on notice, and I've had to 'up my game' to try and beat him."
"I really want to win the series again. So I won't be easing off in the Safari; I'll be out there trying to win the event."
"Once again, Toni Feaver did an exceptional job as co-driver, and really helped me to stay focused after hitting the tree stump. And the Race Torque boys put the extra yards in to get the car repaired and ready for the final two stages."
"Thanks too to the Karri Rally organisers. It's a really well put together and professionally run event."
The final the WA Rally Championship is the Safari Darling Rally, held on November 7.
A win or second placing for O'Dowd will give him a hat-trick of WA Rally Championship titles, matching the efforts of past champions Ross Dunkerton, Alex Stone, Clive Slater, Leigh Hynes, Harry Brooker and Jeff Dunkerton. Only Rob Herridge and John Macara have claimed more, with five titles each.
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