Ryan Smart and Hugh Reardon-Smith took a hard-fought win in the Globe Roamer Rally - the third round of the MRF Tyres Queensland Rally Championship held in Imbil.
The roads, formally those of the International Rally of Queensland were in good shape for the rally, with 33 cars taking the start. In all, there were 114 competitive kilometres were held over eight stages.
Championship leaders, Ian Menzies and Robert McGowen started strongly, winning the first stage. Their rally would come to an abrupt end on stage two rolling the Evo 9. Both were ok but the car would go no further.
Gerard McConkey and Erik Johnson were also strong in their Subaru WRX but a mysterious engine malady ended their event in SS3. The car dropped a couple of cylinders in the stage - a problem they could not replicate in the service park.
This left a thrilling four way battle at the front with Smart/Reardon-Smith, Wayne Morton/Megan Benson, Marius Swart/Alan Stean and Tony Scott/Jay Davidson.
Wayne Morton/Megan Benson, Toyota Corolla S2000.
Sadly for Scott/Davidson, they would not feature in the final results, having retired on the final stage.
Swart and Stean have had a nightmare 2017 in the Volkswagen Polo S2000, not making the start line of either round one or round two of the QRC but the mechanical issues had been put to bed with a competitive performance this time around.
They would win SS3 and would be in the fight to the very last stage but would lose a minute on the final stage and would take third overall.
Morton/Benson, in their second event in the Toyota Corolla S2000 were punching out competitive times, taking two stage wins. They did lose time at one stage, losing a driveshaft mid stage - later hit by the Subaru of Todd Webster and Ray Priest. Morton and Benson made it back to service and borrowed another driveshaft to make it to the end.
They would be just seven seconds behind Smart and Reardon-Smith who were very rapid in their Classic class Datsun Stanza.The former Australian Championship Rally winner had a rough start, spinning on SS3, stalling and losing more than 30 seconds.
At the halfway point, the duo was 30 seconds down on the two S2000 cars. This would not deter Smart/Reardon-Smith who put in a series of stunning stage times on the repeat look to take the win.
They would take 20 seconds out of their competition on SS6 - a stage of just over six minutes.
In the in end Smart/Readon-Smith won by seven seconds from Morton/Benson and a further minute to Swart/Stean.
Fourth was Webster and Priest.
Other notable items throughout the rally was Kim Ackworth and Ian Swinbourne who finally made it to the end of a rally in 2017. Having blown an engine last time out, they battled against the clock to make to the start line. While they didn’t have a clean run, they did make to the finish line.
Melinda Bergmann and Larisa Biggar had a drive shaft failure in their Mitsubishi Evo. While the Evo of Matthew Knight and Denis Jelinek had a clutch failure after SS6. Meanwhile Craig Aggio and Peter Stingfellow’s Toyota would not make it out of service with errant steering.
Of the class wins, P6 was taken by Webster and Priest; P5 taken by Morton/Benson and Classic by Smart/Reardon-Smith.
P4 was taken by the Commodore Ute of Jamie and Michelle Lawson; and P2 was taken by the Hyundai Excel of Ryan Williams and Mikayla McDonald.
The next round of the MRF Tyres Queensland Rally Championship is the P3 Solutions Benarkin Rally to be held on 16 September.
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