Third place at the Lake Mountain Sprint, the final round of the 2019 AASA Australian Tarmac Rally Championship, gave Tim Hendy enough points to gain a historic third Tarmac Rally Driver’s Championship.
Coming into the final round of the series, Hendy and co-driver Julie Winton-Monet, in a 2016 Porsche GT3RS, needed to finish sixth or higher in order to secure a third drivers’ championship.
The opening special stages of the Lake Mountain Sprint, welcomed competitors with wet and slippery conditions which were compounded by the smooth alpine bitumen on the Mountain sections.
With drier conditions forecast for the afternoon and on day two, the maestro Hendy opted for a conservative approach to the morning, coming into the lunch break in twelfth position.
Danny Traverso and Jason Page in a 2005 Mitsubishi Evo, led the event from Craig Dean and Mary Hughes in a 2015 Shelby GT Mustang.
Dean Lillie and Steve Glenney in the 2002 Holden HSV GTO Monaro, rounded out the top three.
The nimble 2017 Lotus Exige of Jeffrey Morton and Daymon Nicoli, who finished third at Mt Baw Baw, was expected to do well in the tricky conditions, however a blown fuel pump fuse on the way to the start line meant their campaign was over before it began. They were to finish the rally in twenty-fifth place.
Although Craig Dean’s and Dean Lillie’s ability had them wrestling their two-wheel drive muscle cars in the wet, finishing the morning in second and third place was exemplary.
The true heroes were Keith and Alex Morling in the 1976 Ford Escort and Peter Gluski and Samantha Winter in a 1986 BMW 325. The classic competitors at lunch were eight and ninth respectively, leading a host of respected teams in more modern and four-wheel drive vehicles.
Craig Dean took the event victory.
While defending Tarmac Champions, Tim Hendy and Winton-Monet were biding their time to strike. All Gluski and Winter needed, to secure a championship title, was to finish Lake Mountain.
However, such is the spirit of competition in the Classic field, that the BMW didn't want to concede a single stage to the Escort and they would trade times and positions throughout the weekend.
Eventually the Morlings prevailed, finishing an incredible fifth outright and winning the Classic competition.
Gluski and Winter settled for seventh outright, coming second in the Classic category. More importantly however, they secured the coveted 2019 Classic Driver’s Championship.
The AASA Australian Tarmac Rally series, for the first time, introduced a Co-driver Championship into the competition. Samantha Winter was the inaugural winner, crowned 2019 Australian Tarmac Co-driver Champion.
The podium place getters of the 2019 Lake Mountain Sprint.
With the roads drying after lunch on the first day, the Porsche of Hendy and Winton-Monet began to make its move, finishing Saturday in fourth position.
On the last stage, Danny Traverso and Jason Page experienced gearbox difficulties dropping them to third. Unfortunately, for the Evo driver, they were unable to rectify the problem and were forced to retire.
As is the tradition of ATRC events, competitors, crew and family gathered for the Saturday night dinner.
Celebrity and race driver Glenn Ridge, along with John Ellery hosted the evening, celebrating some of the older stars and stalwarts of rallying.
Stories and reflections from Dinta and Kate Officer, former Australian Rally Champions and Ian and Val Swan were enjoyed by all.
As crews awoke for the start of Sunday's competition, the Mustang of Dean and Hughes led the event from the flying Lillie and Glenney in a Monaro.
Targa legend and previous AASA Australian Tarmac Rally Champion Craig Dean, had come close to winning a round of the championship on a couple of occasions in the 2019 season, only to see mechanical issues or a blown tyre, steal victory away.
But on the last stage of the day, the run from Cumberland Junction to Marysville, Craig Dean, began to relax with success in sight. So much so, that he had walked to the rear of the field to chat with his fellow competitors when the green stage flag was waved. He proved as fast on his feet as he is in the car and a quick 300-metre sprint later, he was back at the Mustang in time to pilot it to the end and a well-earned victory.
Dean Lillie, of Ravage Race Works, an experienced circuit racer, in only his second ever Tarmac Rally, came second with rally ace Steve Glenney in the co-driver’s seat.
Third went to the 2019, Driver’s Champion Tim Hendy and Julie Winton-Monet.
“I love these events”, said Hendy.
“The Porsche, on its Pirellis, has performed faultlessly and the roads and competition are incredible, but what I really enjoy most is the camaraderie of this series.”
In a sign of the changing face of motor sport, for the first time, an electric car, a Tesla Model S, driven by motoring journalist Paul Maric, graced the tarmac stages.
It finished Saturday’s competition with 50% of its power left, was plugged into a charging station at the Vibe Hotel in Marysville, and left Sunday morning for a rendezvous with the Winton Race Track.
"We are looking forward to the time when we can introduce electric and hybrid categories into the championship. In the interim, the format of our event, does allow electric and hybrid manufactures to test their vehicles on closed roads and in spirited conditions", said Peter Washington of Mountain Motor Sports.
The Lake Mountain Sprint, the final round of the AASA series, was an event within an event, producing both rally and championship victors.
With the new Bathurst round postponed until 2020, the next AASA Tarmac rally is not until the Snowy River Sprint in October however, for many of the competitors, Targa Tasmania is their next outing on the 2019 rally calendar.
AASA Australian Tarmac Rally Champions
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