2022 Experts Cup Rally – Back to the wet!

Ah yes, the 2022 Experts Cup Rally, our annual visit to Collie the coal mining town in the southwest of WA. The event has a lot of history in the WA Rally Championship and this year again it would decide the series. It was quite a while ago that we did the 2022 Safari Rally. If you followed us you’d know that we sealed the 2022 Rally Clubman series at the Mundaring rally. Damien and Gaetan took the win which was an outstanding effort on their debut season.

Trying to win a Rookie Championship

Come to the 2022 Experts Cup Rally and the rookie driver and co-driver awards were still up for grabs. It was actually going to go down to the wire. Damien only had to finish within the top six or so to take rookie driver. Unfortunately though, Gaetan had a shoulder injury and required surgery just before the rally. Damien would have his work cut out to see if he could place high enough to get Gaetan the win for rookie co-driver.

Who’s with who at the Experts?

 The 2022 Experts Cup Rally ended up being a bit of a mixed bag for our team. We had to substitute and swap a few driver and co-drivers around. In WARC we had Steve who would normally be co-driven by Shane. Unfortunately Shane was delayed in returning from overseas so Chris jumped in. Steve was our only state competitor with Hugh, Tim and Todd missing the event. Gaetan had the shoulder injury so Damien had a stand in co-driver in the form of Amelia who eagerly jumped in to help out.

On the morning of the rally Graham unfortunately fell ill and could not compete with Tiana. Karen jumped in for Graham at the last minute. It was very lucky that Karen and Hugh weren’t competing. They were actually scheduled to do so and then Hugh had some illness in his family and couldn’t make it. If not for these circumstances, Tiana may have been forced to withdraw.

Stability and new competitors

 Also in our 2022 Experts Cup Rally line up were Glen and Max in the Excel and Ian and Mitch in their Ford Fiesta. Rounding out our team was a brand new competitor in the form of Jack who’d been swinging spanners servicing with us for a while. For the last couple of years Jack has been competing in Khanacross and Rally Sprints. In the background during the year we’d been building and restoring a Subaru Impreza for him to rally. Shaniece jumped in for the Experts and this was his debut into the Clubman Cup.

 The Collie event usually proves pretty popular with competitors and there was no exception for 2022 Experts Cup Rally. With an entry list of just a shade under 50 cars it was a pretty full field. Unlike the previous year however the weather was damp and it was going to get wetter.

At the top end of the entry list many competitors started charging early. Somewhat surprising for the 2022 Experts Cup Rally there was a lot of retirements. Normally Collie isn’t known as a car breaker however 14 out of the field had mostly mechanical troubles and didn’t finish the rally. Amongst them some notable names that had led or been at the top of the field were missing.

We weren’t going to get out of the 2022 Experts Cup Rally completely unscathed either. On the first group of stages Steve and Chris had a drama with the suspension in their WRX. We had to pull a front strut out in service and repair it. We lost a few minutes of late time getting the guys back out again.

The weather closed in on us

As the rally progressed the weather started to deteriorate. The rain started to fall quite steady and heavily. It would be the Clubman competitiors at the back of the field that would struggle on Collie’s clay-based roads. Up until stage three Jack and Shaniece were having a great rally sitting comfortably inside the top eight. Unfortunately they fell foul of the slippery conditions and put the Impreza just off the edge of the road. They were stuck for a while and lost some 10 to 12 minutes in the stage. The delay dropped them well down the order.

Tiana and Karen had a good day and finished the experts in Ninth Place. Two spots further ahead were Ian and Mitch finishing in seventh. Glen and Max had a good run in the Excel and finished fifth. That left the podiums for the Clubman.

Clubman Cup placings

In third place were the Wrights in their green Excel. Damien and Meebs took second place in the Lancer. For Damien it meant he’d also won rookie driver for the year and gave Gaetan second in the rookie co-driver series. It was a fantastic result especially for Meebs on her second ever rally.

Just one set of tyres!

 An interesting side note, we completed the whole Clubman Cup on one set of tyres. Yes Damien had used just one set of rally tyres (4) for the whole year and won a championship! On top of everything else it also proved just how good the Zestino rally tyres are. If you’d like some Zestino Rally Tyres, contact Tim at Better Performance Products.

Moving along with the podium for the 2022 Experts Cup rally in Clubman it would be Scott Bennett and Gavin Turner that would clinch the win. Gavin also took the rookie co-driver for the year edging out Gaetan.

State two wheel drive contenders

Moving on to State two-wheel drive and it had been a real up and down season for Glenn Alcorn and John Charleson. Unfortunately they retired from the 2022 Experts Cup Rally and that was the end of any hopes of a Championship win. Gary Mills and Mitch Gray would take two-wheel drive honors at the rally in their Ford Fiesta however the series would go to Second placed Julian Wright and Jeff Huggins in their Datsun 1200.

No pace notes – Eeek!

Amazingly for Julian and Jeff they’d actually won the championship using only the organiser’s road book. They didn’t write Pace notes at any rally for the whole year. No doubt it made the season win a little bit sweeter.  Rounding out  the State two-wheel drive podium would be Alex and Lisa white in thier Nissan Silvia S13.

The final two stages for state championship were run in the wet and the dark. With the lost time on the early stages and in service, Steve and Chris went on to finish 26th at the 2022 Experts Cup Rally.

State championship podiums

Up at the pointy end of the field and in third place on the podium was Ben Searcy and Daymon Nicoli in their Evo 9. Their placing at the 2022 Experts Cup Rally had given them enough points to win the outright state championship for 2022.

Rando/Beckwith FTW!

Showing a classic WRX could still be a force to be reckoned with, Gary Whittle and Ryan doe took second place in theirs. So it was on to the outright winners of the 2022 Expert’s Cup rally. Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith took their WRX to the stage win on SS1 and held the lead for the entire rally. They didn’t put a wheel wrong and it was a flawless drive to the finish.

With the RallyWA state rally championship all wound up, you’d think we could put our feet up. You’d also be wrong. Sure there’s a five month break to the 2023 season however we have plenty to do over the summer months. Current cars need maintenance, new cars need to be built and there’s the logistical planning which happens months in advance. This is truly a 12 month a year sport!

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