2014 Carringtons Traffic Services Safari Rally

The 2014 Carringtons Traffic Services Safari rally did not work out quite how anyone had planned.

After a 2 ½ month break from the laste event, the Lewana Stages Rally, the final round of the outright championship and the penultimate round of the State 2wd and Clubman Series should have been a straight forward affair.
Going into the Safari, there were theoretically several teams that could have clinched the ouright title in the closest round to Perth. The race was going to be on and in the end, the title would be decided under the most unusual of circumstances.

Set in the forests of Chidlow, the ball bearing gravel is renowned for it loose slippery surface. Already having a heavily revised route, the stages were all set when just 8 weeks out from the event, more changes were needed due to issues beyond the control of the organisers. The new route would mean no advantage for any competitor and take cars onto roads onto new and unfamiliar roads.

Running a 3 stage repeated twice format, competitors should have contested around 140km. That plan was thrown out the window when Brad Markovic/Glenn Macneal and Leigh Hynes/Stuart Percival (car numbers five and four) crashed their WRX’s at almost the same time at two different locations in SS1. Both teams needing medical intervention.
With two separate accidents to deal with at the same time, SS1 was stopped and the rest of the field returned to the service park. Only the first two cars completed the first two stages ahead of the accidents, with car three (father and son John & Tahni Macara, Lancer Evo 7) retiring part way through SS2 with a broken oil cooler and engine damage.

After an anxious wait, the stages were cleared and reset for competition, beginning with SS4. This time the rally ran smoothly.

In the 23km stage 4 John Ludlam/Michael Wood had mechanical trouble with their Mazda rotary powered Datsun 1600 (Dazda) and retired, however the rest of the state field completed without incident.

At the service halt after SS5, Graham Iddles/Shane Cary retired their WRX with unspecified “car issues”.

The plan had been to start and finish the rally earlier to reduce late afternoon dust. With the delay in the rally, SS6 ended up running into the twilight. A 31km test of narrow and twisty sections combined with fast wide open roads provided a challenge. The added dimension of hanging dust without a breeze made some competitors apprehensive whilst others revelled in the conditions.

During SS6 Dylan King/Anthony Staltari retired their Ford Escort. The pair had been suffering with exhaust troubles earlier in the event that may have contributed to their withdrawal.

As the last cars finished the rally, the champagne was sprayed in the service park in what had been a highly unusual and challenging day.
Hugh Harmer/Wayne Keating brought their V8 Commodore to the podium amongst the 2WD Challenge entrants ahead of Andy van Kann/Abbey Hayes in their Toyota Levin.

In tenth outright, husband and wife Alex and Lisa White also took their Nissan Silvia to third in the state 2WD championship. Kiel Douglas co-driven by Daniel Adams got his V8 Commodore into ninth place and took 2nd in the state 2WD championship to boot. John Farrell/Chris Randell made eighth in their Spec C WRX behind brothers Craig and Scott Puzey who took their Legacy RS to seventh. Already sealing the state 2WD title for the year didn’t slow Sean Keating/Caleb Ash. The pair still blasted through the stages to take their turbo Nissan Silvia to sixth outright, matching it with the 4WD cars. Steve Oxley/Mike Young brought their current shape WRX hatch to fifth place, a strong finish to end the year. Mark and Steve Davies brought their classic shape WRX to a tidy fourth place, another fast and clean run for the brothers.
John O’Dowd/Ben Searcy had gone into the Safari leading the championship in their Spec C WRX. Even though they hadn’t won a rally all year, their consistency during the season had amassed enough points that a strong finish in the last event could garner the sought after trophy. Another tidy drive by the pair brought a podium third place, would it be enough to win the title?

After an up and down year, Rob Webber/Toni Feaver finished strongly to take second outright. It was a great result for the team and their Lancer Evo 9.

When Doug Tostevin/Tammy Adams (Spec C WRX) were drawn in the ballot as car one, the pair were apprehensive. Playing road sweeper on the first group of stages would slow their times and with the event planned to finish in daylight, any advantage gained by hanging dust at sunset would be minimal. Effectively they needed to finish in front of Hynes/Percival and O’Dowd/Searcy to seal the title, it was a tall order.
As it turned out, the day’s circumstances played out in their favour. The duo won the Safari and with it, the WA State Rally Championship with a margin of just 4 points.

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