2013 Darling 200 Rally

And so it was that the final WA rally for the year would also be the decider for the 2013 Clubman Cup. Run in the forests around Jarrahdale, the warm and dusty Darling 200 rally was 80 or so km of competition that stood between the three teams that could take the Clubman honours for 2013.
Using the organiser supplied road book instead of full pace notes, 35 rally teams contested six special stages (three stages run twice) on a 37°c degree Saturday in mid November.

Of the strong field, the bulk were made up of Clubman competitors, followed on the road by State 2WD Rally Championship competitors and then running ineligible in the event were some 4WD cars just “out for a play”.Darling 200 Rally winners Mark & Angelina Travers

Husband and wife Mark and Angelina Travers started the rally as car 1. Before the start, Mark commented that he’d hoped for a better starting position as he would act as gravel sweeper for the rest of the field on the first pass over the stages. It would make the tussle for the win a little trickier.

Not far into the ten kilometre SS1, newcomers to rallying, Tim Simmons/Sarah Sevicke-Jones (Toyota Levin) found a tree and ended their rally early. Some distance further into the same stage, son and mother Mathew and Jenny Gerdei (Datsun 180B) had overheating problems and had to retire as well.
Darling 200 Rally Jason Lowther_Matthew Teape retired with brake troublesAmongst the state 2WD entrants, Raz Vlad/Damon Nicoli were the first to quit in SS1 when a gearbox issue intervened in their Ford Fiesta ST, forcing them to stop and park the car. Also the team of Jason Lowther/Matthew Teape were limping through the end of SS1 and retired at the start of SS2 when they lost all brakes in their Toyota Corolla.

SS2 would see the retirement of Sean Keating/Caleb Ash from the State 2WD section of the rally when their Nissan Silvia started to overheat and lost power. The early troubles were a sign the conditions were making the event a tough test for competitors and machines. Darling 200 Rally Phil and Nic Box rolled thier Datsun 1600

As teams came in for their mid-point service, it became clear just how challenging the Darling was this year. Father and son Phil and Nic Box had gently rolled their Datsun 1600 and were continuing the rally with no front or rear screen, making for a very dusty day. Others were reporting spins and overshoots on the loose ball bearing gravel even in the 4 wheel drive brigade, and others too were finding it hard to stay focussed with the heat of the afternoon.

With some familiarity of the roads, the second group of stages should have been easier than the first. Some went faster picking up the pace, others were not so lucky.
Michael Nairn with late replacement co-driver Mandy Lister clipped a stump in SS5 and then beached their front wheel drive Corolla, putting them out of the rally. Stephen Mackinlay/Tony Floyd were going well earlier, however an ominous sound under the bonnet in SS5 meant a failing engine and the pair were forced out on the penultimate stage. Amongst the 4WD cars, Lea Welch/Justin Smith put their WRX off the road in SS5 and also had to retire.

Darling 200 Rally Hugh Harmer and Wayne Keating on their way to 4th place Out of the Clubman competitors, Cameron Tunstall/Kody Reynolds brought their Hyundai Excel to tenth place. Leading the Clubman points heading into the Darling, Steve Vass/Ashley Burton suffered clutch trouble in their Datsun 1600 during the day and finished the rally ninth. In eighth place Kevin and Aaron Hollingsworth had a trouble free run in their rear drive Toyota Corolla. Nathan Pearce/Aarin Hahn brought their rear drive Toyota Celica home seventh and Mik Healey/Stephanie Hubbard (Ford Escort) were 6th, despite a serious misfire that reduced their pace to 60km/h or less on the last stage.
Darling 200 Rally Shane Eather/Ross Burton took fifth placeInto the top five, Shane Eather/Ross Burton were charging for the whole rally. Just a few hundred metres after the spectator point on SS3, a tyre change on their Datsun 200B cost the pair around five minutes and dropped them to fifth by rally’s end. Hugh Harmer/Wayne Keating took their V8 Commodore to a great fourth place, and with it, clinched the Clubman rookie championship for the year.
Husband and wife team Carl and Tracey Rattenbury had some issues in their MK1 Escort during the day and drove on to take third place. Geoff Leatt-Hayter hasn’t had the best of luck this year up until the Darling 200. Swapping his turbo charged Nissan 180SX for a MK2 Ford Escort on this event, he and co-driver Sharon Black overcame an intercom problem and some off road excursions early in the rally to take a well deserved second place. Even being first car on the road, didn’t hamper Travers/Travers too much. The pair had a clean run, winning the Darling 200 and with it the 2013 Clubman Cup. Darling 200 Rally Kiel Douglas and Marc Louden were fastest State 2WD

The State 2WD championship section of the rally was won by Kiel Douglas/Marc Louden in their thundering V8 Commodore. The pair struggled on the first group of stages with no rally computer and an overheating engine management system. The service crew were able to solve the issues to allow the pair to take the win. Second place in the state 2WD was taken by Stephen Wade/Mark Davies in their new Ford Fiesta ST. For Wade, it was his first ever gravel rally in Australia. Leo Iriks/Stephen Dixon rounded out the top three in their Mk2 Ford Escort.

WA rallying is now on Hiatus until April 2014 when the action will kick off with the Forest Rally. For competitors it will be a chance to unwind from a long season and look forward to the end of year celebrations. For some teams however, the hard work of replacing, repairing and developing their machinery for next year has already begun.

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