The CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC) returns on Saturday (14th September) with the Darling 200 in Jarrahdale.
Twenty-six competitors will tackle three stages twice (six stages in total) racing the clock over 115 competitive kilometres and travelling a total distance of 205 kilometres.
Clerk of Course Wendy Walker said that the stages are reported to be good but could be wet.
“The stages are fast, open, with one that’s tight and twisty and quite flowing and another stage that’s a mixture of both,” Walker said.
The Darling 200 is a blind rally, which means that competitors will be issued with a road book and there’s no recce for competitors to write their own pace notes.
WARC leader John O’Dowd is missing the Darling 200 due to logistics of transporting his Skoda R5 from the Eastern States in between rounds of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, which is he currently sitting in fourth place.
With the WARC already won by O’Dowd who isn’t able to be beaten in the points, the fight is on for the remaining podium places currently tied between Ben Searcy and Craig Rando.
Searcy will have his usual Jimmy Marquet calling notes in his Swift Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 9 and he said he’s ready and raring and go.
“The Darling 200 is like a home rally being so close to Perth and I’m excited to be getting behind the wheel again, it’s been a couple of months since I last competed as a driver,” said Searcy of East Vic Park.
“Last time I did this rally I was co-driver and we won it. It’s a blind rally which will be a challenge and it’s been 15 years since I’ve driven in a blind rally.”
Craig Rando will be doing what he can to stay ahead in the points with is co-driver Matthew Scafidi in their Rando Constructions Subaru WRX STI.
“This is only our second year rallying and the first road book rally we’ve done, so I’d say it’s going to be intense, our plan is to just keep it straight,” Rando said.
“From what I’ve researched this rally can bite in an instant, it can be quite fast and rough.”
Kelly Thomas / Dave Thomas. Photo: CMR Photographic
Five-time WA State Champion John Macara will be competing in his first rally for the year with experienced co-driver Ross Burton calling notes.
“I haven't rallied in the Jarrahdale area for 35 years when this area was used for state rallies, but I love the natural forest tracks and roads and their unpredictability, especially with a road book rally,” Macara said.
In the 2WD Drivers Championship, leader Razvan Vlad missed the last round which gave other competitors an opportunity to close the gap. Going into the Darling 200, Vlad is just 14 points ahead of Alex White, and 65 points ahead of Glenn Alcorn. With 80 points awarded to the winner, it’s still anyone’s game.
There’s some interesting news the rookie class. Up and coming 17-year-old driver Kelly Thomas who is about to move from red P-Plates to green P-plates on her driver’s license needs to finish the next two events in the top ten to take out the Rookie of the Year title. In her Able Finance Subaru WRX with her father Dave calling the notes, Thomas’ best result thus far is finishing 12th outright.
In exciting news, Thomas is one of three Australians selected by CAMS to travel to China to compete in the Taipei Gymkhana Prix against 12 other countries in early November.
“I don’t know how CAMS selected me, it came out of the blue but I’m so excited and happy to have this opportunity. I’ve never been overseas before!”
But for now, Thomas’ focus is on the Darling 200 and finishing in the top ten.
“Rallying is just fun and it’s something completely different. The dirt makes it fair for everyone - on tarmac it’s about the power of the car whereas on gravel it’s about your skill as a driver,” the Toodyay Year 12 student said.
One to watch in the rookie class is six-time winner of tarmac rally Make Smoking History Targa West, Peter Major. Whilst extremely experienced rallying on sealed roads, the Darling 200 will be Major’s first gravel rally.
Calling notes for Major is his co-driver from this year’s Targa West, Kim Screaigh in their Totally 4x4 Mitsubishi Evo 7.
Spectators are welcome at the Service Park located at Jarrahdale Oval and there are two spectator points to catch all the action. Both Spectator Points are within walking distance of the spectator parking area with cars on Stage 1 due 11:40am, Stage 2 at 12:15pm, Stage 4 at 3.00pm and Stage 5 at 3.35pm.
For the spectator guide and more information, please visit www.rallywa.com
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