Aussie champ dominates Hellyer Rally
Australian all-wheel-drive rally champions Marcus and Scott Walkem dominated the second round of the Tasmanian Rally Championship series yesterday, the Stanley Hotel Hellyer Rally, winning all eight stages of the demanding event their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
The event was also the 25th anniversary Hellyer Rally and attracted a strong field of crews from all over the state, with the event starting from and finishing at the Stanley Hotel.
The Walkem brothers, from Launceston, handled the slippery road conditions on the forestry roads around Mawbanna, Dip Falls and Forrest in the Circular Head area superbly to score an impressive victory.
Stages one and 10 of the event, Spion Kop, was cancelled due to excessive water over a river fjord, with the Wallkems clocking the fastest times over the morning heat of four stages and duplicating their effort in the afternoon’s second heat of four stages, to win the event by 1 min and 35 secs.
Coastal driver Eddie Maguire, from Elliot, finished second with navigator Michael Potter, also in an all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.
Maguire converted the former tarmac rally car, in which he won Targa High Country in Victoria, back to gravel rally specifications, due to rule changes to Targa-style events which required significant down-tuning, effectively making his Lancer uncompetitive.
Hobart driver Lee Peterson continued his impressive 2016 season to date finishing 1 min and 35 secs behind Maguire and Potter, in his Nissan Sunny GTi in third place, with experienced former Australian rally champion navigator Daniel Willson in the left-hand seat.
The strong performance also saw Peterson and Willson take over outright leadership in the Tasmanian championship, after an equally impressive second outright placing in round one, which was not contested by the Walkems.
First-round winner and Circular Head local Keith Abllitt, of Smithton, in a Subaru Impreza WRX, finished 13th, after he and navigator Nicolle Bryant crashed on stage four.
However, the damage wasn’t severe enough to end their day and after their crew was able to effect repairs during the lunch stop, Abblitt and Bryant continued in the afternoon heat’s remaining four stages.
Devonport’s Andrew Wyllie and Damien Grimwood, in a Subaru Impreza WRX, finishing fourth, 39 secs behind Peterson, with Somerset’s Peter Barrett and Roger Carter, in a 2WD Toyota Sprinter, rounding out the top five, a further 39 secs behind.
In the 25 year history of the Hellyer Rally, the event has only been won outright twice by a 2WD vehicle, ironically with those victories being recorded by Barrett and Peterson.
The only major casualty in yesterday’s event was Hobart driver John Davidson, who crashed his Subaru Impreza WRX heavily on the fourth stage and was unable to continue.
For more information, contact Steph Peters - 0418 130 691
or Martin Agatyn – 0418 137 692
THERE IS ALWAYS THE PACKING UP OF GEAR AT THE END
The sounds of rally cars in the bush