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The 2009 Styx Valley Rally produced a thrilling start to the 2009 season with Lynn Rattray and Lindon Hills taking victory by five seconds from Victoria's Nathan Reeves and Scott Spedding.

Heavy recent rains meant the 17 crews entered faced treacherous conditions on the super fast Styx roads. Michael Nicholls and John Morrison rounded out the podium in their first ever gravel rally and fourth outright and first 2 wheel drive was taken by Marcus Walkem and Tim Kulhanek in an impressive display of car control.

The Reeves/Spedding Sti Spec C got off to a bad start with a jump start on special stage 1 leading to a 1 minute penalty, dashing their hopes of victory. The stage win was taken by Michael Nichols and John Morrison in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3, not a bad way to begin their rally career.

Special stage 2 produced more drama with Rattray/Hills sustaining a puncture, costing them almost a minute. Stage 2 also saw the 2 wheel drive favourites, Lee Petersen/James Booker, end up in a ditch and 17 year old Sam Kirkland's rally end when his engine expired. Petersen/Booker were recovered and went on to set impressive stage times on their way to class victory.

The rain continued to fall as the battle between Reeves and Rattray intensified with both crews using every inch of road to try and find an advantage. Rattray had the advantage of local knowledge but was struggling after pre-event engine computer problems left him down on power.

“Lindon and I really had to extend ourselves and commit extremely hard to the corners,” said Rattray. “The problems we had before the event really makes the victory sweeter”.

Despite missing out by a small margin, Reeves enjoyed his first Tasmanian foray.

“They were the best roads I have ever driven. We only decided to do the event a week before but are now going to try and do the whole series,” he added.

The next round of the Tasmanian Rally Series is the Hellyer Rally held in the state's north-west on July 18. This will see the crews of Rattray/Hills and Reeves/Spedding again battle it out for outright honours with a large supporting cast in the lower classes.

Photo: Stu E Photography

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