The story behind the 2018 WA Rally Calendar – Shaken and Stirred

The 2018 WA rally championship

Why we have six rounds and not seven

The Experts Cup

The story actually begins with the Experts Cup rally in Collie. For most of the last 20 years or more, the Experts has run during winter. Using stages around Wellington dam, the catchment area drains well. This means that even with fairly wet conditions the roads hold up and generally only a few places require extra work to repair post event.

The June or July rains usually help with compaction and eliminate dust (especially at night). Probably the only complaint from competitors with the rally is that is often very cold! The forestry department in the area however is slightly more vocal. Roads that need repair can hamper logging operations and wet weather post event can make truck access even more difficult.

A change is in the wind

During 2017 the Experts Cup organisers were asked if they could see if the rally could be moved to a later date in the year. Simply shifting the Experts to say August was not an option. To set a rally championship calendar is a tricky business with many events running on specific dates for very good reason. August for example would cause conflict with the privately run tarmac event Targa West.

Which date?

September was a no go either. The Kirup stages rally had already been moved from winter for similar reasons to the Experts. Jumping to a summer date brought a high risk of fire so there didn’t appear to be a lot of options on the table. The Light Car Club then received a request in December to consider. Could the Safari rally be swapped with the Experts?

The long running Safari

Until 2006 the Safari lived in Boddington using the Bunnings/Sotico plantation and the roads made famous by Rally Australia. Without calendar limitations due to weather the event ran on the June long weekend. In 2007 when the Safari was forced to moved, the calendar had to shift along with it. The new area of Chidlow brought catchment and disease risk soil issues which were highest during wet weather. The Safari had to run on dry roads and that meant an October date.

How could the Safari swap with the Experts given the strict conditions imposed by the government authorities? It did call for a special meeting and a great deal of discussion. The LCC thought that it might be possible to swap dates and formed a plan. The outcome was the LCC agreed to a conditional date swap for 2018 with a review at the end of the year.


What happened next was difficult to comprehend. Even though the exact request had been granted, emails arrived suggesting a big rearrangement of the second half of the 2018 WA Rally calendar. Suddenly the Safari and the Darling 200 rallies were both being affected. It sparked off a flurry of discussion and a domino effect on events.

With organisers, officials and government departments all in the mix nothing could be decided quickly. It was also mid December and people were already on holidays or soon to be.  As to be expected the answer to the last minute proposal was “No”. The Safari and Experts could be swapped as requested however no other events would be altered.

Another plot twist

The next email offered another strange twist and left everyone wondering. A final calendar for 2018 was received. The Experts Cup had indeed moved date. The unbelievable part was that it had swapped dates with the Kirup Stages rally! This new development seemed odd. Kirup had run during July for number of years and at times resembled a boat race rather than a rally. Road damage and subsequent repair bills had sometimes been hefty. The move to September had improved things for everyone including the road fund. What could come of moving the event back to July?

The date swap between Experts and Safari had been granted and then not utilised. Instead the Kirup organisers would have to move their timeline forward by two months. It seemed that a great deal of time and effort had been expended for little gain.The 2018 Calendar now stands as six rounds rather than seven.

2018 season 1st half dates

The Karri rally will kick off the 2018 WA rally championship. Based in Nyamup 25 km south of Manjimup, the event will run on the 24th of March. The next event is the Forest Rally from the 27th – 29th of April. Also round 2 of the ARC, the Forest will use Busselton and Nannup for its stages. The Safari rally is round 3 this year. Part of the LCC’s plan for 2018, the rally is set for the 3rd of June in Boddington.

Second half dates

7th of July is the Kirup stages rally using roads around the tree plantations of Grimwade near Balingup. Round 5 will see teams head to Collie for the Experts Cup on September 15th. October forms part of the LCC’s plan to run a rally sprint this year. The forests around Chidlow/Sawyers Valley will be used however it won’t be part of the outright championship. Round 6 is the Darling 200 on November 10th. Normally the preserve of 2wd only vehicles, the Darling may change in 2018. The organisers are looking at more roads around Jarrahdale bringing the Darling in as a full WA rally championship round.

Photos courtesy of Drift Images:

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