2022 Grimwade Stages Rally – The BIG WET!

Nothing like a Friday night putting a rally car together in the Donnybrook pub car park the night before an event! What would we do without Champion Autoglass?  That was our introduction to the 2022 Grimwade Stages rally. Round three of the RallyWA state championship.

 That cold wet Friday night we were watching Steve fit a windscreen to the Ford Fiesta of Gary Mills/Mitch Gray. Why they were replacing a windscreen on their rally car the night before the 2022 Donnybrook rally, is a question probably best not asked.

Starting wet and staying wet

 Saturday morning at the service park in Donnybrook was wet. The forecast was for heavy rain and for a change the weather bureau got it right. The service park was beginning to resemble a quagmire and the event hadn’t even started!

Alongside the ducks over 50 cars had entered the 2022 Grimwade Stages Rally. Out of those we were fielding a team of six. It was destined to be a wet and cold day for service crews and teams alike. Reports from our state cars after recce were that the stages weren’t any better than the Donnybrook service park.

Top end out early

 There were some that would succumb to the slippery conditions during the event. Dave Thomas and co-driver Mandy Lister overshot a corner early in their WRX and had to back up. Unfortunately later in the 2022 Grimwade Stages rally they wouldn’t be so lucky and they’d have a nudge with a tree.

They weren’t orphans amongst the front-runners. Max Mcrae and Mac Kierans also found the scenery copping some heavy damage to their STI. Setting the pace and building an early lead Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith drove well in their WRX. Unfortunately a clutch issue intervened and they were out early too.

Rally Action Team

 Amongst our team the 2022 Grimwade Stages rally was a bit of a mixed bag. Hugh and Karen started well without too much grief in the WRX. Todd and Jeremy however were struggling with what may seem like a minor problem. The duo couldn’t sort out fogging issues with their windscreen and had to withdraw after stage 1 and come back to service.

Tim and Jon were fairly onto it and they were going okay on the opening stages in their yellow Subaru. Steve and Shane though they were still finding their feet with each other and the slippery conditions. Between the Forest Rally and the 2022 Grimwade Stages, Steve had changed from a 5 to a 6 speed gearbox in the WRX. The difference in centre differential settings was also taking some getting used to.


 Again this year at the Grimwade Stages the Clubman didn’t have a service. It was a case of four stages and rally finished.  Let’s have a look at how it went together for them.

 One particular corner proved quite tricky for a number of rear wheel drive cars. A Nissan Sil80 that had trouble climbing the uphill hairpin was Geoff Leatt-Hayter and Paul Helm. The pair hadn’t been out competing together for four years. Despite the little set back, they actually went on to win Clubman Masters.

Amongst the Clubman Cup competitors Tiana and Graham jumped out of the blocks and set the third fastest time on stage one. Unfortunately on stage two it all came undone when they slipped off the edge of the road and got stuck. They lost some 18 minutes getting going again and their 2022 Grimwade Stages Rally was looking bleak.

 Scott Bennett and Gavin Turner were doing very well with their 2022 Grimwade Stages rally campaign. They held a comfortable lead until the last stage when they too slipped off the road and lost a chunk of time. It dropped them out of contention.

Clubman podium

Damien and Gaetan didn’t feel they were having the best Grimwade rally. They had a broken selector cable in their Lancer and it was hampering second and fourth gear changes. Also Gaetan was ill so it didn’t make for a pleasant day. Despite the dramas they kept pushing on and were rewarded with third place in the clubman. Another podium for our team!

Mika Connor & Eden Hughes were another team doing rather well in Clubman Cup. Unfortunately they too succumbed to the 2022 Grimwade Stages rally conditions and got stuck losing a chunk of time.

All of the dramas gave a reshuffle to the Clubman order and it was the Wright brothers in their Excel that finished second. Carter Smith and Lochie White took the win in their Excel. A result that was determined until after all the Clubman had finished.

Mid point for State competitors

At the midpoint service we were finding out how challenging the rally was.  The drivers and co-drivers looked fairly drained and they’d only done four stages. The conditions on the 2022 Grimwade Stages rally were, if anything, deteriorating. Teams still had the night section with another four stages ahead. Still, we were thankful. None of our cars had a scratch on them and that’s always a good sign.

 The second pass over the stages saw Dylan King and Shaun McMackin holding down a comfortable second place in their STI. On the last stage they had mechanical dramas and were forced to retire. Unfortunately in leg 2 Todd and Jeremy still had fogging issues and they decided to call it early to preserve themselves and the car.

 That’s enough of the retirements. Let’s talk about how everybody finished up on the 2022 Grimwade Stages Rally. Steve & Shane finished a respectable 15th. It was their first wet and dark rally. Hugh and Karen found leg 2 even more challenging however they did very well and finished 11th.

Rally Sensations

The sensation of our team and the 2022 Grimwade Stages rally was Tim and Jon. They surprised themselves when they found out that they’d set a fourth faster on stage seven. They went on to finish the rally in a solid fifth place!

Mick Steele and Katie Oxley hadn’t been out on the gravel for a couple of years. They bought out their rebuilt Spec C and were rewarded with the fourth place.

State championship podium

On to the podiums for the 2022 Grimwade Stages Rally. In third place was Pete Rullo And Jimmy Marquette in their AP4 Peugeot. It was a solid drive in the conditions and showed a continuing improvement in their speed on gravel in their first full RallyWA season.

 Everyone had slip and slide in the mud and Gary Whittle/Ryan Doe were no exceptions. They managed to keep it together and were rewarded with second place. Driving cleanly and quickly Ben Searcy and Daymon Nicoli took their Lancer Evo 9 to the top of the podium. It was very convincing win with a five and a half minute gap to second place.

Thankfully we brought all the cars in the team home from the 2022 Grimwade Stages Rally without too much drama (apart from all the mud caked everywhere). Surprise surprise, Sunday morning dawned bright and clear in Donnybrook. Where was this weather the day before?! Next rally we’re heading further south for the 2022 Karri Rally in Manjimup.

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