Former Tasmanian State Rally Champion, David Waldon, has returned to the Tasmanian Rally Series in emphatic style, winning Saturday’s Styx Valley Rally.

Waldon and co-driver Damien Grimwood, in a 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec C, mastered the slippery conditions best, opening a strong early lead before consolidating their position to take victory from the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi of defending champions Lynn Rattray and Lindon Hills by 51 seconds.

Andrew Wylie and Ross Ferguson, in a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, were a further 12 seconds behind in third.

Returning after a two year break, Waldon had low expectations heading into the event. “I didn't expect to be any further up than about fifth, so to go out on the first stage and take 10 seconds out of the nearest competitor really surprised us”.

The win did not come easily though. “We lost power steering during the third stage,” said Waldon. “I had to do a stage and a half with no power steering and it nearly killed me - that was really hard work”.

Waldon’s early pace provided a 54 second lead at the lunch break, but the drier afternoon conditions allowed Rattray and Wylie to match the times of the leader, the trio separated by a handful of seconds.

The two-wheel-drive class was full of drama. Lee Petersen and Daniel Willson’s Nissan Pulsar Gti lost all but third gear on the first stage, yet sensationally still led the class until a spin on stage 6 put them out of contention.

Defending two-wheel-drive champions, Stephen Turner and Anna Flittner (Falcon XR6), took the lead before engine dramas on the penultimate stage handed class victory to Aaron Reader and Kelly Handley in a Mitsubishi Mirage.

Waldon hopes to build on his early success at the next round of the Tasmanian Rally Series, the North-West Car Club’s Hellyer Rally, to be held in Burnie on July 10. “Hellyer is a completely different style of event, but we still want to finish on the podium and keep racking up some points for the championship.” he said.

Photo: Stuart Edwards

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