While the battle for honours in the WARC section of the Western Safari rally was a non-event, the 2WD section was fiercely fought out by the championship-leading Holden Commodore driven by Kiel Douglas and Anthony Paynter and the second-placed team of Razvan Vlad and 15-year-old Daymon Nicoli.

Before the rally, Vlad / Nicoli were 10 points behind the Commodore but they managed to take out the 2WD championship with a stunning victory at Safari, while Douglas / Paynter could only manage fourth.

“We had a new car for this event, a Group N Ford Fiesta ST, which I imported from NZ just a few weeks ago,” Vlad explained. “I only had time to do a short test before Safari so the car was new both to me and my service crew.”

“The first two stages were very close, Kiel was quicker but only by nine seconds,” he said. “On stage three I saw him on the side of the road and I knew that we had a chance. Kiel got going again but he lost seven minutes while changing a flat tyre.”

However luck was soon to run out for the Fiesta driver too when on stage four they hit a rock on a fast section and punctured the car’s front right tyre.

“We had to stop and change it on the stage and lost about three minutes but we also damaged some of the wiring and had to do the next three stages without a trip meter,” Vlad quipped. “We lost about half a minute before the crew had a chance to repair the car back at service.”

In a dusty run to the finish the Vlad / Paynter combination pulled off a miraculous victory, winning the 2WD section from Geoff Leatt-Hayter and Tammy Adams. Craig and Scott Puzey came in third with Douglas and Paynter fourth overall and second place in the 2010 2WD championship.

“I am really happy to win the 2WD championship. I did not set out to do that at the start of the year but after Forest Rally I realised that this was possible,” Vlad said.

“Everything just worked out well for us this year; my new navigator, 15-year old Daymon Nicoli, took his job very seriously from the first stage and kept us on the road and I had a great service manager (Bob) who prepared and serviced the car and also advised me on how to change my driving style to suit the WA roads,” he said.

“Now we'll have some fun at the Darling 200 rally and get ready for the 2011 season, which will include a trip to Coffs Harbour for Rally Australia.”

For other Western Safari results visit us on the web: www.rallywa.com

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