2016 Darling 200 Rally – Causing an upset in the Clubman Cup!

The final rally of 2016 was the decider of the Clubman Cup series and an all two wheel drive affair.  Known for its slippery surface and narrow roads, the Darling 200 was based in Jarrahdale to the southeast of Perth. Last year the rally had seen temperatures of 39°, this year the weather dawned cool with a slight risk of showers.


The rally used a format of a single 25km stage run three times. All 30 competing teams would also use the organiser supplied road book in lieu of full pace notes.  Clubman competitors would start first with car 11. In an unusual twist, car 1 which was the first of the state 2WD championship actually started 20th on the road behind the Clubman.

Leg 1

On the first pass of the stage, many found the conditions tricky. Terry Hughes/Roger Pedersen slid off and got stuck on a bank in their Daihatsu Applause. Steve Vass/Ashley Burton retired with a blown engine in their Datsun 1600 and David Farnworth/Alexandra Martin had slightly more of a scare with an engine bay fire in their Toyota Corolla. The big GT Falcon of Shane Attwell/David Moir also fell afoul of the conditions when they had an off road excursion knocking the front end.

Leg 2

Unlike most of the other rallies, the ball bearing Darling gravel has little clay content and does not compact well. It means that instead of the loose top layer being swept off to reveal a firmer base, the roads tend to dig up and rut. On the second run the ruts were well defined in places and a few larger rocks were loosened in wheel tracks. Mitchel and Stuart Clarke suffered a broken half shaft in their Datsun 1600 ending in retirement. Anthony Chudleigh/Amanda Karhu rolled their Hyundai Excel mid way through SS2 also forcing withdrawal.

Leg 3

On the third pass teams had their work cut out for them. The late afternoon sun was setting and in places drivers came around corners, blinded and not able to see the road. Hugh Harmer/Mitch Gray could attest to that when they put their V8 Commodore off the road when momentarily blinded. Shane Harmer/Nic Anyan in the six cylinder Commodore suffered a mechanical failure in SS3 and had to park up. Carl and Tracey Rattenbury had tail shaft failure in their MKI Ford Escort and had to retire too. The latter were in the hunt for the Clubman Cup and could now only watch on to see how everything unfolded.

State 2WD top seven

Amongst the state 2WD championship, Harmer/Gray limped the Commodore to the finish and took seventh place. Neil Trethowen/Ashleigh Turton (Hyundai Excel) had a couple of overshoots during the day however finished sixth also winning 2WD challenge.  Simon Gratton/Richard Harris finished fifth in their Daihatsu Charade behind Andy Van Kann/Alex Sleep who took fourth in their rear drive Toyota Corolla.


Greg and Deeann Flood were third in their Mitsubishi Lancer behind Cody Reynolds/Anthony Staltari who drove well to second place in their front wheel drive Impreza. Taking the state win was Raz Vlad/Caity MacDonald (Ford Fiesta ST). For Raz and regular co-driver Daymon Nicoli, the pair had sealed the state 2WD championship at the Safari Rally in October.

Clubman Cup


The Clubman cup was still up for grabs heading into the Darling and the top ten would decide the fate. In tenth Mark Huitenga/Jon Morland-Barrett had a clean run in their Mitsubishi Galant. Dene Courtis/Robert King (Toyota Corolla FX GT) suffered a flat tyre in SS2 dropping time and finished ninth. With the retirement of the Rattenburys, they had done enough to win the Clubman Cup series for 2016. Brock Nicoli/Lachlan Beresford brought their Hyundai Lantra to eighth place, having a troubled day. Jason and Paul Lowther also had trouble during the rally and finished seventh in their Toyota Corolla. On their very first rally brothers Phil and Wayne Shaw took their camouflage Hyundai Excel to a fine sixth place.

Top 5

Benjamin Perard was on only his second rally and with Paul Helm alongside, grabbed fifth in his Ford Fiesta. Jake Foster/Archa Oxley brought their Hyundai Excel to fourth place with Archa taking rookie co-driver for the rally.


Fresh from major repairs after the Safari, the S13 Silvia of Lance Stringer/Jace Van Saarloos was third. Lance had also taken rookie driver for the rally as well. After clutch and gearbox failure at the last rally, Andrew Percival/Jim Pearce worked frantically to replace the drive train on their Honda Civic for this event. On the eve of the rally they discovered the radiator had broken triggering more frantic work to have it sorted in time to start. All the hard work paid off and the pair drove to a fine second place. Out front by nearly two minutes, Julian Wright/Ian DeBoer took their hat trick win on the Darling 200.

With the hot summer months fast approaching, rally season now takes a 4 month sabbatical. The first rally of 2017 will be the Karri rally in Manjimup in late March.

Karl Drummond

Photos: Mike Civil, Artline Media (Garth Maguire) and Brian Percival

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