On track for back-to-back
DARREN WINDUS is one step closer to defending his Victorian championship with victory at the MRF Tyres Akademos Rally on October 16 ahead of Glen Raymond and Kate Catford.
In a season plagued by cancellations and wet weather, a field of 44 crews set out under clear skies from the picturesque Alexandra Township for the fourth and penultimate round of the Focus on Furniture Victorian Rally Championship. The event consisted of six stages, divided into two heats for a competitive distance of 100km in the forests around Rubicon.
Following the sale of one of the team’s Subarus, Windus opted to lease Irishman Charlie Drake’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, with Bernie Webb calling the notes.
Windus went fastest on the opening stage, 4s clear of Raymond (Subaru) with the Mackenzie brothers Steven and Brent third in their G2 Fiesta and leading 2WD.
Drama would soon follow, with defending Akademos winners, Arron Windus/Joe Brick (broken differential), Andrew Pannam/Tim Batten (suspected blown turbo) and 2011 champions Warren Lee/David Lethlean (gearbox) all retiring.
The short liaisons between stages caused brake dramas for Windus on SS2 when the brake pedal went to the floor, dropping the stage to Raymond who also encountered his own problems with a fuel surge. Benefiting from the issues of those in front was the Mackenzies with a SS3 win.
Heading into heat two, a mere 12s covered Raymond, Mackenzie and Windus, but the order would soon change when the front differential on Raymond’s car failed, leaving him to fight on in rear wheel drive. Mackenzie too had problems when he dropped five minutes with a flat tyre, leaving Windus with enough margin to claim the win despite his brake problems reoccurring on the final stage.
A faultless drive from Michael Conway/Jenny Cole in their Ford Escort netted them the final step on the podium. Tod Reed and William Murphy (Mitsubishi) were fourth in their only appearance for the year, Tony Moore/Simon Rowland (Ford) fifth with Luke Sytema and Simon Evans (Ford) next.
Aiming to clinch the Our Auto Rally Hyundai Excels, series leaders Stephen Eccles/Simon Pilepich were struck a cruel blow on SS3 when a brake component failed sending them off the road. The crew escaped but the same cannot be said for the car, which suffered significant damage. Luca Giacomin/Brett Williams eventually came out on top to win in a tight battle over Joel Perkins/Tom Brennan.
WORDS AND PIC: CRAIG O’BRIEN
Date posted: November 9, 2016