Marius Swart and Alan Stean have won the first round of the P3 Solutions Queensland Rally Championship at the Whitsundays, driving a VW Polo S2000.
The inaugural event lived up to its catch phrase "Adventure in Paradise", with tales of high speed moments and thrills for many crews in the tropical landscape.
Rally Whitsundays was part of the much bigger Whitsundays Festival of Motoring, located in Airlie Beach, Proserpine and Bowen over the weekend. The Whitsunday Regional Council not only sponsoring the event, but added a massive input and preparation to the high quality roads.
The communities gave the rally an enormous welcome and show of support, with a tarmac special stage in the streets of Bowen outside the Grand View Hotel really revving up the masses.
Upgrading his rally car to a Mitsubishi Evo 6, 2018 junior champions, Brayden and Blake Wilson, had a stellar start to the year and finished second. The brothers also snatched a fastest stage time on a flyer through the cane fields. Blake also achieved fastest junior co-driver for the rally as well.
Third place and first two wheel drive was Craig Aggio and Megan Benson in their classic Toyota KE30 Corolla. After a run of DNFs in earlier events, it was all smiles as the pair arrived at the finish.
Fourth position went to Melinda Bergmann and Larisa Biggar in their Mitsubishi Evo 9, and fifth was the Yeppoon-based father and daughter team of Anthony and Chloe Tanzer in a Subaru Impreza.
Third place went to the Toyota KE30 Corolla of Aggio and Benson. Photo: PBH Studios
Melinda Bergmann and Larisa Biggar were fourth in their Lancer. Photo: PBH Studios
Achieving first in the Clubman category was Lee Williams and Grant Abrahams driving in their Toyota Sprinter. The boys put on a show during the street stage with a few extra cheeky donuts that really got the crowd roaring.
In the Novice category, in her first championship event as a driver, Michelle Van Der Wilk and Brad Jones (Subaru WRX) came away with a solid win. They had competition from the impressive rally cars of Team Toyota Townsville.
It was a case of "The Curse of the Leader" for the rally, with some notable absences in the top ten results.
Glen Brinkman and Harvey Smith (Mitsubishi Evo 9) started the rally quickly, stating their presence with a fastest time in stage 1, and retaining the lead after stage 2, however stage 3 claimed them with a broken rear control arm.
With an ever-positive attitude, they later re-rejoined the event after the repair and continued to claim three more fastest stage times, despite knowing that they were no longer eligible.
On the completion of stage 3, Erik Johnsson and Matt Van Tuinen (Subaru WRX) were equal leaders with Wayne Morton and Kirra Penny (Toyota Corolla S2000). However, in stage 4 the Leader's Curse kicked in on one of the big long straights through the cane fields, and Johnsson/Van Tuinen suffered a blown engine.
With Morton/Penny in the lead after stage 4, they arrived early into stage 5, resulting in penalties and succumbing to the wrath of the Leader's Curse. Swart/Stean must have drank a special potion in the morning and held onto the lead from stage 5 through to the finish.
Gerard McConkey and Neill Woolley (Subaru WRX) suffered damage in stage 2, that required repair with a welder from a kind farmer (deemed as outside assistance). They continued going hard all the way to the end. They withdrew at the end as a true sign of competitor honesty, their times putting them in a second outright position.
The rally was organised by the Whitsunday Sporting Car Club, with Townsville City Autosports Club also playing a role. The Whitsundays Festival of Motoring also had volunteer assistance from Zonta Club Whitsundays, whom advocate Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in May, with all rally cars increasing awareness for this cause by tying an orange ribbon to their cars.
The next round of the P3 Solutions Qld Rally Championship will be the popular SR Automotive Manumbar Rally on June 15.
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