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Staged in the scenic hill country of Eden Valley’s fabled wine region, the first round of the South Australian Rally Championship was the setting for WA driver Roman Watkins and his co-driver Paul Van der Mey to secure their best result to date by finishing 2nd outright.

In mixed weather conditions, with heavy rain making some stages very treacherous, the pair pushed their Subaru Impreza WRX to its limit in order to secure the position. The event, over a full 108km of gravel tracks was very challenging for all competing teams this year.

With 2005 National Privateer Championship winner, Steve Glenney, competing along with a host of very competitive entries, the competition was always going to be fierce.

After the first three competitive stages, Watkins and Glenney were separated by only a few seconds. However, Watkins managed to take a full five seconds back from Glenney on Stage four, bringing the difference down to only 1 second. Disaster followed on stage five for Watkins: an earlier competitor, recovering from a flat tyre, pulled out in front of him and he was forced to drive in their dust for 14km, thus dropping 18 seconds to Glenney.

In spite of this, Watkins managed to secure second fastest on the stage. However it was Glenney who suffered next, with a 1 minute penalty for over-extending his service time. This put Watkins back in the lead.

On the next two stages Watkins set faster times than Glenney, making a win look like a real possibility. However a complete intercom failure (between him and his co-driver) on the last three stages caused Watkins to lose time, and in the end he had to settle for second place.

“So close!” stated Watkins after the event. “I was disappointed to lose out on first, but I couldn’t hear Paul on the pacenotes. I just drove as fast as I could and I think in the end the difference was just a handful of seconds. The positives are that it’s the second event for me in the new car, and we’ve got a lot more speed to come.

“The main thing for me and the team is that the car is competitive so we are heading in the right direction with it. We now start the preparation for our next event, the Toyota Rally of South Australia held on August 19-20.” he concluded.

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