Seven-time Bathurst winner, Jim Richards, has produced a dominant performance on the opening day of Rally Burnie to take Heat One honours.

Driving his 2007 Porsche GT3, Richards opened up an early lead and finished a comfortable 17 seconds ahead of television and motorsport identity, Grant Denyer.

Peter Eames in a Porsche 911 Carrera was the first Classic car home, beating the Ford Capri Perana of Cameron Wearing by 36 seconds, while Brian Dermot was third in his class driving a Holden Torana.

Richards was clearly the man to beat throughout the day. Denyer was also impressive, setting the fastest time on four of the nine stages in his Les Walkden Rallying-prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

But he and co-driver Dale Moscatt could not match the outright speed of Richards, who was particularly impressive on the first passing through the Hellyer Gorge, winning the famous stage by 11 seconds.

Eighteen-year-old Brendan Reeves was outstanding in his tarmac debut, finishing in third place, 18 seconds behind his team mate Denyer.

Richards and co-driver Barry Oliver were pleased with their day’s work.

“It is good to have a buffer going into tomorrow,” Richards said. “If the weather is fine tomorrow, we should be fine.”

Denyer, on the other hand, is hoping for wet weather to arrive.

“What we need is rain,” Denyer said. “I won’t be able to beat him unless it rains.”

“I’ve got to master Hellyer Gorge. I’ve only done it twice and Jim has done it over 40 times, so that is where he really took a break on us today.”

Burnie driver Jamie Vandenberg was involved in a titanic battle with Tony Quinn for fourth place outright. Both were driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evos and, in the end, Vandenberg got to the finish line with a two second buffer over his rival.

Classic car leader, Peter Eames, was pleased with the performance of his Porsche 911 Carrera.

“It is its first time out, but it won’t keep up with the all-wheel drive beasts in front of us” Eames said. “The main thing is too finish in a good place tomorrow.”

The day took its toll on the field with six of the thirty cars failing to make it across the finish line.

In winning Heat One, Richards took the maximum 40 points on offer, with Denyer second on 34 with Reeves third on 30.

It is a fresh start tomorrow, with another 40 points up for grabs in Heat 2. The winner of the event will be the person with the most points at the end of the two days of competition.

Results – Heat One – Rally Burnie

1 Richards/Oliver, Porsche GT3, 35 minutes 52 seconds
2 Denyer/Moscatt, Subaru WRX STI, 36:11
3 Reeves/Smyth, Subaru Impreza WRX, 36:28
4 Vandenberg/Vandenberg, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, 37:20
5 Quinn/Wenn, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5RS, 37:22
6 Bartter/Wheeler, Subaru WRX STI, 38:55
7 Eames/Logan, Porsche 911 Carrera, 39:09 (1st Classsic)
8 Nicholls/Lockett, Holden VYS Ute, 39:22
9 Wearing/Cochrane, Ford Capri Perana, 39:42 (2nd Classic)
10 Sherrin/Ayers, Mini Cooper S, 40:35
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