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A two-wheel drive 1993 Honda Civic has taken the outright win in round one of the Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC), the new Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally held around Manjimup.
Tom Wilde and Madelin Kirkhouse, winners of the Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally. (Photo: Tim Allott)This is the first time the Verandah Apartment’s team - driver Tom Wilde and his girlfriend and co-driver Madelin Kirkhouse – have paired up for a rally.
It is also the first time a two-wheel drive car has won a round of the WARC since 1994 when multiple WA State Rally Champion Bob Nicoli finished fastest in his Daihatsu Charade.
Wilde said that he could never have predicted an outright win but was thrilled to take the title.
“It wasn’t until about half way through the rally that I saw the times and thought we have a chance for the win,” Wilde, 29, said.
John Macara was leading the rally in his 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 up until Stage 6 when he had an off and lost a lot of time, and Nic Box had mechanical issues with his 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 which ended his rally.
“All the practice I’ve had writing fresh pace notes at events in the eastern states really helped. As a brand new rally with stages none of us have rallied on before, everyone needed to write fresh notes. It was great to do that with Madelin and she turned out to be an excellent navigator, we bonded really well,” Wilde said.
“I did some work to the car in the lead up, but it still just has the standard Honda Civic engine and gearbox. I’ll put our win down to having great notes and the fast, narrow, flowing roads which suit the two-wheel drive,” Wilde said.
Winning co-driver Kirkhouse, 25, said that Wilde has crazy driving talent.
“Whenever I thought surely we’re going to go off here, Tom would just cruise around the bend. He didn’t frighten me all, only once when I saw trees quite close to my side. We got along really well and had lots of laughs – it was a fun rally,” Kirkhouse said.
Busselton duo Wilde and Kirkhouse won both the outright and 2WD categories. In second outright was Casa Security’s Stephen Oxley and Michael Wood in a 2008 Subaru WRX STI.
The battle for third place was separate by just 45 seconds with three stages to go between Maximum Motorsport’s John O’Dowd and Kenneth Sheil ahead of Natrad Malaga’s Mick Steele and Tracey Dewhurst. Steele clawed back vital seconds but it was O’Dowd in a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI who finished on the podium in third.
In the 2WD category, second place went to Mike Joss Racing’s Michael Joss and co-driver Megan Logue and third was Trade Hire’s Kody Reynolds and Daniel Reynolds.
Winner of the Clubman Cup was Bunbury Sharpening Service’s Michael and Stuart Clarke in their 1970 Datsun 1600.
Wilde, a cheesemaker at his family’s business Cambray Cheese in Nannup, praised the new Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally.
“We camped at the Kin Kin Retreat with everyone - they have really good facilities and it’s close to some good rally roads. It was really cool,” Wilde said.
Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally Clerk of Course Richard Delfos was delighted with the event’s debut on the WARC calendar.
“We has some rain in the lead up to the rally which helped settle the dust and left the stages in excellent condition,” Delfos said.
Delfos acknowledged the terrific support from the competitors, sponsors and community of the new event.
“So many officials, competitors and crew camped at the Kin Kin Retreat - the Retreat put on a great barbeque for us on Friday night and it was a wonderful atmosphere and get together,” he said.
“The community has given us tremendous support which we hope to grow in future years and increase the number of our officials. Without officials, rallying would not be possible.”
The Service Park and hub of the Trade Hire Kin Kin Rally is the Kin Kin Retreat, 25 kilometres south west of Manjimup in the heart of the Southern Forests.
The stages were a combination of state forest and pine plantation roads with 92 kilometres of competitive stages, 215 kilometres in total, compromising of three stages run three times for WARC competitors and twice for Clubman Cup competitors.

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