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Round 1 of the 2011 Bosch Australian Rally Championship kicked off in Busselton, south of Perth on Friday night, April 15. The Driver Skills Australia (DSA) team of driver Mark Butcher (TAS) and co-driver Warren Phillip-Clarke (WA) driving the black Subaru WRX rally car started well with consistent stage times on the first two runs around the popular spectator stage on the Busselton foreshore.
 
Saturday morning the crews headed to the forest near Nannup for the ‘real’ rally stages but before even the first gravel stage had commenced, driver Mark Butcher was stung by a bee on the arm during a transport section.
 
“What a start to the season! We hadn’t even started our first stage and a bee came from no where and got me a beauty. I figure that this was hopefully a good luck sign however it was a bit of a distraction for at least a few hours.” said driver Butcher.
 
The crew were running in the top ten most of heat one which was good considering the car suffered two broken suspension mounts and was struggling to deal with the heat after being tuned for cooler conditions back in Tasmania.
 
“Mark and I were overheating in the car – so its no surprise the engine was also struggling. Luckily its programmed to reduce power when it gets hot – protecting the engine but also effecting our performance considerably.” said co-driver Phillip-Clarke.
 
The team finished the first heat of 2011 in a positive 9th outright and 3rd in the new ARC Unrestricted class. The crew fitted some additional cooling at the half way service stop to help keep things on track for the second day of competition.
 
A few light showers and cooler tempartures welcomed the crews on Sunday morning. The team were instantly quicker setting a 7th outright time early on and backing it up with a few more quick times.

However it all went pear shaped after lunch.
 
“I think my lucky bee ran out – and in one stage we blew the clutch, turbo and damaged the engine. We also damaged another strut mount leaving us with only 3 wheels properly attached to the car! It was a real handful but we managed to drive the last three stages at a slower pace and still finished 12th outright and 3rd in the ARC Unrestricted class” said Butcher.
 
The crew and car showed good potential when all systems were go and with a new engine, suspension and clutch to be fitted before the next round in Queensland, the team are quietly confident of getting closer to the top 5 of the Australian Championship.
 
“We came here to score points. There is a championship on the line and some of the bigger teams struggled and scored little or no points so we are in a good position for the rest of the year. I can’t thank my crew, family and sponsors enough for helping us make the first round, and furtherest round from our base in Tassie. I can’t wait to get to Queensland with a more powerful and better handling car” said Butcher.

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