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New South Wales wheat farmer Bill Pye marked his return to the Classic Adelaide tarmac rally by snatching fastest time in the Prologue staged in the Adelaide Hills today.

Pye, from Coonamble, punched his 1974 Porsche 911 RS up the 2.9 kilometre climb to the Eagle on the Hill in one minute 43.8 seconds, a mere 0.2 sec. ahead of 2007 rally winner Kevin Weeks, who drove a 1975 version of the same model Porsche.

The Prologue results determine starting order for cars in the Late Classic, Classic and Historic classes of the Competition category of the rally, which starts the first of four daily legs at 9 am tomorrow from Victoria Square in the centre of the South Australian capital.

Last year’s Classic class winner Cameron Wearing topped his timesheets with 1 min. 46 sec. in a V8-engined Ford Capri Perana, a handy 1.7 sec. ahead of regular rival Rick Bates, driving a Porsche.

John Lawson, piloting a rare 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C Roadster, was fastest of three cars contesting the Historic class of the Competition category.

Pye was delighted to set fastest time, having crashed out of the 2006 event and missed 2007, but said it would have no influence over his prospects for the next four days.

“We weren’t expecting to do that (win the Prologue), because it was a bit slippery out there and we weren’t really trying,” Pye said.

“However, the nature of the stages here means where we start in the field will have no advantage for us.”

Weeks’s second-fastest time was a good result from what he said was a bad-handling car.

“The car was dreadful and was sliding around at the back. We took it back to the workshop later and made some changes and it will be a good thing tomorrow. It was good we went out and found the problem today instead of tomorrow,” he said.

Eight-time Targa Tasmania champion and Classic Adelaide Ambassador Jim Richards got his less-powerful Porsche 944 Turbo Cup up the hill in 13th place.

However, the man who beat Richards to the Targa trophy this year and a fancied Classic Adelaide debutante, Steve Glenney, could manage only equal-20th in his new Lancia Delta Integrale 16V.

Rated as one of the world’s best road rallies for classic cars and a major tourism event for South Australia, Classic Adelaide will cover 34 “special stages” over closed public roads before the finish on Sunday afternoon.

More than 220 cars and crews have entered the Competition and Touring sections of the rally.

The field includes crews from Britain, Hong Kong, Italy and every Australian State and Territory, plus many millions of dollars worth of classic performance cars representing makes such as Ferrari, Maserati, De Tomaso, Porsche, Jaguar, Mustang, Lotus and Lancia.

Spectators will again be able to see three Australian motorsport legends in action.

Formula 1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham, motorcycle world champion Mick Doohan and Le Mans 24-Hour winner Vern Schuppan all will drive Mercedes-Benz sports models in the Thoroughbred touring category.

Comprehensive information for Classic Adelaide spectators, including maps and times, is available on the event website, www.classicadelaide.com.au.

RESULTS - PROLOGUE

Late Classic (1972-1990)

Bill Pye/Grant Geelan (1974 Porsche 911 RS) 1 min 43.8 sec.
Kevin Weeks/Bec Crunkhorn (1975 Porsche 911 RS) 1:44.0
Tim Possingham/Darren Lee (1989 Nissan Silvia) 1:44.1

Classic (1948-1971)

Cameron Wearing/Ben Fitzsimons (1971 Ford Capri Perana) 1:46.0
Rick Bates/Jenny Brittain (1971 Porsche 911) 1:47.7
Rob Devenish/Lyn Carr (1971 Datsun 240Z) 1:49.2

Historic (1900-1947)

John Lawson/Andrew Lawson (1938 Alfa Romeo 6C2300 Spyder) 2:26.0
Bernie O’Shannessy/Tony Borbridge (1929 Chrysler Roadster) 2:52.3
Wes Wilklinson/Di Wilkinson (1920 Frontenac Indianapolis Special) 2:53.0
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