2023 Grimwade Stages Rally – Fast roads in apple country

In this edition, we delve into the heart of the action at the 2023 Grimade Stages Rally, a pivotal event in the state Rally Championship. As we traverse through the rounds, it becomes apparent how swiftly the year is progressing. Our journey took us 250 kilometers southwest to the quaint town of Donnybrook, renowned for its apple orchards—a fitting backdrop for the event. The rally’s nerve center, HQ, and Service Park were nestled here, while the challenging stages awaited us further south in the Grimwade tree plantation.

The Rally Action Team

Our formidable five-car team, comprising three state cars and two clubman, was poised for action. Tim and Jon, were back in their WRX after missing the 2023 Forest Rally due to work commitments. Glen and Max were out again in the VR4, with Hugh and Karen completing our state trio in their WRX. Meanwhile, the Clubman Cup saw Jack and Luke, as well as Tiana and Sammy, navigating the rally in their respective Imprezas. An impressive lineup of 45 cars marked the 2023 Grimwade Stages rally, but unfortunately, a couple faced hurdles even before the rally commenced.

Out before the start

Meebs and her driver Mike Gigney had to bow out due to illness, while the Rullos missed the rally for joyous reasons. They were attending Pete’s co-driver’s wedding. Despite these setbacks, the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally welcomed us with favorable weather, a stark contrast to the storms of the previous year. As the morning unfolded, some of our team was busy building sandcastles under the morning sunshine, creating a lively atmosphere before the competition kicks off.

Dropping stages and competitors

Originally slated for eight stages, the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally saw a last-minute change, reducing competition to six stages. Challenges emerged early for Jack Flanagan and Murray Hines, with an engine failure in Stage 1, mirroring their misfortune from the previous event. Tony Oates and Riley Griffiths also faced adversity, breaking their suspension and a driveshaft on a crest in the same stage. Declan Madigan and Stephen Kelly encountered a tree escaping unharmed, though their rally concluded prematurely.

The Clubman Cup

The 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally took an unfortunate turn for Geoff Leatt-Hayter and Paul Helm, as engine-related issues forced their second consecutive early exit. Amidst these challenges, the Clubman competitors showcased resilience. Tiana and Sammy overcame an intercom failure, finishing fifth in the Clubman, while Jack and Luke tackled an almost crippling clutch issue to secure third place, maintaining their lead in the 2023 Clubman series.

Clubman winner

Sam Moody and Dave Christians’ rapid repairs to their Impreza paid off, securing second place in the Clubman. The top spot went to Lochie White and Kai Rasmussen in their Daihatsu Charade. Highlighting the strong competition in the Clubman series with three different winners across the rallies.

Midway point

At the midpoint service, the team noted excellent road conditions, despite a collective sense of an “off day.” Nevertheless, preparations ensued for the night stages on the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally. The two-wheel drive category witnessed Carter Smith and Niamh Nairn’s unfortunate retirement, while Shane Smith and Noah Humble exited due to a misfire. Ali Aslam and Caleb “Cash” Ash, holding eighth place, encountered a tree late in the rally, necessitating retirement.

State 2WD championship

In the state two-wheel drive, Scott Bennett and Gavin Turner claimed third place in their Mitsubishi Lancer. Dave Smith and Roger Pederson overcame driveline issues, securing second place in their Ford Fiesta. Alex and Lisa White in their S13 Sylvia clinched first 2WD. The White family dominating both two-wheel drive and Clubman categories at the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally.

Finishers places

Reflecting on our team’s performance, despite the perceived off day, all cars completed the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally. Hugh and Karen finish 29th, Glenn and Max secured 24th, and Tim and John claimed 16th, a mere 0.2 seconds behind 15th place. As the top ten standings unveilled, Mick Steel and Katie Oxley secured 10th place, with Dave Thomas and Mandy Lister in 9th , and Kelly and Steph in 8th—all in their Subaru WRX vehicles.

Dale Faulkner and Rachel Ferranti showcased a strong drive, finishing 7th in their WRX. John O’Dowd and Tony Fever brought their Skoda Fabia R5 home in 6th place. Gary Mills and Mitch Gray’s Peugeot AP4 car exhibited unusual reliability, securing 5th place. Tim Hiles and Morgan Ward, enjoying a trouble-free run, finish 4th in their Legacy RS on the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally.

WARC podiums

Craig Rando and Scott Beckwith (WRX) secured 3rd place, whilst Dylan King and Lee Tierney piloted their Lancer Evo 9 to a commendable second. Daniel Gonzalez and Daymon Nicoli, consistently fastest on every section of the 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally, emerged victorious, securing their third win of the season in the Skoda Fabia R5.

With this event concluding smoothly, our attention turned to regular maintenance as the next challenge loomed—the Karri Rally in Manjimup, just four weeks later. The 2023 Grimwade Stages Rally proved a test of resilience, skill, and the unpredictable nature of rallying, setting the stage for the remainder of the championship season.

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