Secure Glass Rally Team driver Roman Watkins and co-driver Toni Feaver have won the first round of the West Australian State Rally Championship. The pair won the event by 14 seconds over last year’s state champion John Macara in a thrilling battle which went right down the very last stage. Leigh Hynes, who had won the event previously, suffered mechanical problems early on putting him out contention.
 
“We wanted to use the event as a shakedown for the new car.  Roman hasn’t competed for nearly two years so this event was really important for him to get back to race pace,” commented Team Manager, Gary Matthews. “We had a few technical problems dropping us to fifth early on in the rally,” he added. 

After ironing out the earlier problems, Watkins blitzed the field shooting into first place to carry an eight second lead at the midpoint of the rally.  The next two stages of the rally saw him lose time with the drop in wind causing the thick dust not to clear.  Car 1 on the road, Lee MclLroy, started to look like a real threat given his advantage of good visibility. 

Watkins said, “It didn’t look good - we were losing chunks of time in the dust and our lead had all but been eroded.” 

A light drizzle of rain started to offer hope as the cars with spotlights on rumbled out of the last service. The sunset and the night ascended onto the last two stages of the rally, the likelihood of further time loss seemed inevitable along with his lead.

A last ditch push for glory by Macara saw Watkins lose his lead by seven seconds and Mcllroy close within striking distance. The drizzle had turned to a light rain just before the last stage eliminating the dust problem and giving Watkins a clear road in which to make his mark. It was now winner take all and the final stage would be the decider.

“The final stage of the Rally was 20km long and I knew that it was now or never," Watkins said. "I just went for it, throwing caution to the wind. I was pushing hard all the way through the stage, listening intently to the pace notes coming at me like machine gun fire."

He had done it! A staggering 21 seconds faster than Macara on the last stage saw Watkins retake the lead by 14 seconds and win the rally outright.

“I’m ecstatic - it’s a real boost to the team heading into the next round, of the Quit Forest Rally  in April” said Watkins.

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