2022 Winvale Stages Rally – Airborne & Dust!

2022 Winvale Stages Rally

It had been almost six months of off season when April heralded the start with the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally. The Covid-19 pandemic was hitting WA pretty hard and unfortunately it also affected us, some of the key officials on the event and some of the other teams as well. Luckily our five cars managed to get to the rally along with most of the competitors.

More sprint than Rally

The 2022 Winvale Stages Rally was based in Bakers Hill about 80km East of Perth. This particular event was very short. Really it was more of a sprint than it was a case of a full rally at about 60 km competitive for state championship and 36 odd km competitive for Clubman.

Good field – encouraging sign

As season openers go, the 2022 Winvale Stages Rallye had quite a big field. There were originally 44 entries with quite a heavy weight on the state championship over clubman. More than two-thirds of the field were state cars however it was good to see lot of new names out competing.

Our line-up

In our own team we had a few new names entering the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally as well. We had five cars consisting of four Subarus and one Mitsubishi. At the head of the lineup was Hugh. He should have had Karen alongside unfortunately Covid intervened. At the last minute Katie Oxley kindly stepped in and the pair got settled in their WRX.

Next in our team were Tim and Jon running in there yellow WRX. Newcomers to the team and the sport, Steve and Shane brought rounded out the state entries in their new WRX. If you’ve been following our social media you would know that we have been building the car in the background for a while. It was great to stretch its legs at the 2022 Winvale Stages rally and see what it could do.

In the clubman series we had Tiana and Graham starting their second season running the Impreza.  Alongside were newcomers Damien and Gaetan in their Lancer. The yellow Mitsubishi itself is not new to the rally stages. It actually won the clubman series last year much, to the chagrin of Tiana and Graham!

10 Fast and flying stages

Ten stages lay ahead of state cars and six for clubman in the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally. The weathermen promised rain and delivered very little so it was very dry, loose and dusty. In many regards the conditions were a repeat of the 2021 Winvale Stages Rally. The roads had quite a few tricky sections and it was going to catch a few people out during the day.

The 2022 Windvale Stages Rally would become a rally of attrition. The problems started early for some competitors. Perhaps a sign of things to come, Craig Winbridge and Kirsty Moore stalled their WRX right on the start line of stage 1. They later retired right on the flying finish of SS3 which made it a dangerous place for officials and the following cars.

No one could claim the pace of the 2022 Winvale Stages rally was lagging. If anything competitors were turning up the wick even from the early stages. The above photo is a bit reminiscent of Rally Australia in the 90’s. A McRae in a Subaru flying high. Max Mcrae following in his late uncle’s footsteps was leading the pack and the rally for the first six stages. Unfortunately he and co-driver Matt Kierans had to retire with centre differential troubles.

Sensational start!

Back amongst our team and the sensation of the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally were Damien and Gaetan. On their very first event they were leading Clubman and wiping the floor with the other competitors. Unfortunately later in the rally Gaetan succumbed to a bit of motion sickness and they had to stop for a little while on the stage. The pair dropped a few minutes however went on to win the clubman rookie driver and co-drivers awards

Clubman Cup podium

Taking a slightly more tentative approach to the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally, Tiana and Graham opened their account well. They finished third taking a podium spot. A great start to the year. Steve and Shane eased into it and got used to pace notes, the driving ,the car and everything that went along with it. They finished a strong 16th and the car came home without a scratch.

Onto the main event within our team and it was between Hugh and Tim. Development time in the off season of both cars and drivers was bearing fruit. The problem was, they were now tussling with each other! No quarter was given on either side and at the end of the rally Tim and Jon finished ninth.

Hugh and Katie finished a handful of seconds further back in 11th. If this wrangling continues, we may have to bring in team orders! The last thing we need is an escalation that throws caution to the wind.

2WD Championship

 Let’s get back to the rest of the 2022 Winvale Stages rally. We’ll start with state two wheel drive. The hard charging pair of Glenn Alcorn and John Charleson had their work cut out from early on. They dropped a chunk of time on the first couple of stages. Pushing their Mk II Escort to the absolute limit they clawed back time and won the category.

Simon Gratton and Richard Harris had a long development with their Honda Civic. They finally got the bugs ironed out at the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally. A quick drive netted the pair second place in two wheel drive.

Caution? Who needs Caution !!! ?

Some in the field were throwing caution to the wind completely. Shane Smith was very lucky to get away with this one. Apparently it wasn’t his only two wheel experience for the day. Kelly Thomas and Steph Esterbar also had a big moment. A heavy landing in their WRX brought the all ladies team to an early finish with a snapped front strut.

RallyWA outright podiums

That brings us to the outright podiums for the 2022 Winvale Stages rally. The hard charging pair of Jack Flanagan and Murray Hynes brought their WRX to third place. They also won the bonus stage bagging  some extra points for the championship too.

Ben Searcy and Damon Nicoli drew car 1 on the road again. They did well in their Lancer Evo and finished in second place.  That left the top spot. The friendly pair of Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith won the 2022 Winvale Stages Rally in their WRX.

Next event is the biggest rally in WA. We’ll be heading to the Forest Rally in late May. Hopefully the weather holds out this year!

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