Experts Cup Rally – the rough and tumble. And we came away with a win!

2018 Experts Cup Rally

This year’s Experts Cup rally was a break from tradition. Normally a winter event, warm and dry weather greeted us for the new spring date in September. Round five of the Rally WA state rally championship took us to Collie.

The roads

Rain in the days leading up to the event had made some parts of the stages muddy around the banks of Wellington Dam. The roads however were largely in good condition. Just over 100km of competition lay ahead spread over nine stages.

Over she goes

The Experts Cup is a technical event with plenty of twists and turns. It would prove challenging for some teams. With the sun out for the afternoon start, Mick Steele/Lee Tierney led the field into the first leg. The pair ventured just a fraction too close to the edge of the road in SS2 and they gently rolled their Spec C WRX.


Nic Box/Toddy Payne were the third car on the roads and they too were struggling. Clipping something with the front of their Nissan Silvia damaged the steering. Nursing the car didn’t help as a driveline failure then halted further progress. They would be joined on the road home by Raz Vlad/Daymon Nicoli in their Ford Fiesta. Their car also had transmission problems early and they too were out of the rally.

Sink or swim

After recce there was a great deal of chatter about one creek crossing. The water was fairly deep and wide. Ben Perard/Chris Parish took a cautious line through the ford however their Spec C WRX wasn’t happy about it. A mis-fire ensued and they dropped a stage whilst we sorted the problem in service.

The water hampered a few other competitors throughout the field. Hugh Harmer/Karen Russell stalled their Commodore in the middle of the crossing. A tense few seconds passed before the Holden fired into life again.

Evo Life

Not able to break his mechanical voodoo, John Macara co-driven by John Morland-Barrett suffered an engine failure.  Mike and Jack Civil also had mechanical troubles retiring their Evo 9 during service. It was not to be the day for Mitsubishi.

By the second leg competitors were beginning to find their groove with the challenging roads. Well swept and defined lines were no doubt helping. Mechanical issues continued for some teams. Steve Mackinlay/Dave Christian suffered a broken rear arm (Mitsubishi Lancer). Julian Wright/Jeff Huggins had an oil cooler hose fail on their Datsun 1200 and Terry Hughes/Monique Smith had suspension troubles (Daihatsu Applause).

Clubman Cup

The Clubman section of the Experts Cup Rally finished after SS6. The Hollingsworths brought their Suzuki Swift to third place. Steve Vass/Ashley Burton drove well all day and secured second in their Datsun 1600. After a succession of bad events this season, Lance Stringer/Jace van Saar Loos took their Nissan Silvia to the win. The margin at the finish was just over two minutes.

Final leg

Lights were fitted as the state cars headed out for the third leg. Most would finish at twilight some did need their lights to negotiate the last couple of stages. The Experts Cup Rally had proven a challenge with 19 cars reaching the finish.

Top Ten

Craig Rando/Mathew Scafidi brought their WRX to tenth place. Lisa and Alex White had a difficult day and brought their Silvia to ninth and third 2WD. Dave and Kelly Thomas brought their Escort home in eighth. They had been leading the 2wd pack until an electrical gremlin intervened. Repairs between stages resulted in 40 seconds of penalties dropping them a place.

Mike Joss/Meghan Logue finished seventh and first 2WD. Mike later commented that he had driven as hard as he could and still couldn’t match the Thomas’ Escort. Barry McGuiness/Glenn Alcorn were sixth in their WRX. During the early part of the rally the pair said they were struggling with the roads and conditions.

Top Five

Kody Reynolds/Anthony Staltari were again quick on the Experts. They finished in a solid fifth place in their WRX hatch. Steve Oxley/Michael Wood entered this round as a chance for title contention. They kept it neat and drove a measured event. By the end they were fourth outright. It was enough to give Michael Wood the championship co-driver’s title for the year.


The sport hadn’t seen Pete Bennison much in the last few years. He came back to rallying with Keian Guy alongside in his WRX.  The pair drove well even winning SS8 and took a podium spot in third.

Second, however really first

John O’Dowd/Toni Feaver had to finish the Experts Cup Rally as the championship hinged on it. A good drive secured second place in their WRX hatch. It was enough to give John the driver’s title for 2018.

Setting the pace

Out in front Dylan King/Lee Tierney set fastest times on eight of the nine stages. The pair were clean and rapid in their WRX hatch. With a margin of just over 25 seconds the duo won the 2018 Experts Cup Rally.

Our Team

With the misfire sorted after SS3 Ben and Chris were back to full power. Ben wasn’t confident with the conditions and didn’t push too hard. They still set times well inside the top ten on the remaining stages.

Mark brought the Celica GT4 out for this rally. Graham Mogg gamely volunteered to co-drive and the pair were in the thick of the action. By rally’s end the pair were in 14th place.

The Last Round

The last rally of the year is the Darling 200 in Chidlow. The event is for 2WD vehicles and will decide the 2WD state championship and Clubman Cup. 4WD cars may enter and run at the rear of the field. The October date will see the season wrap up a month early this year.

Photos by Rally Action Team and Blake Rattenbury