Mud & Muddier – 2016 Kirup Stages Rally

Kirup Stages rally 2016

In the last couple of years the Lewana Stages rally has been extremely wet and muddy. The conditions  presented a decent challenge for competitors, organisers and officials.

For this year’s championship the Ascot Motor Club opted to change the date to September. In the process they also renamed the rally to the Kirup Stages. Whilst in essence the event was similar to previous years, the name more acurately reflected where the rally was based. Using the Jim McDonald oval in Kirup as HQ and service park, competitors would travel 20km further south for competition. Utilising roads within the Grimwade tree plantation, six special stages would span day and night to give a competitive distance of around 100km.

The line up

The two month mid season break helped with entry numbers in comparison to the packed first half of the season. A healthy field of 38 cars comprising of 19 Clubman and 19 State took to the stages. Ironically WA is experiencing one of the wettest years it has had in a long time and the date change didn’t dry the roads as much as expected. There were some very muddy sections and after recce, reports of plenty of deep puddles and some flowing water laid ahead too.

The start

By the 1:00PM start a few steady showers had already fallen. The first two stages were slippery as expected. Amongst the state cars, the first to have troubles was Chard Marshall/Simon Glossop in their WRX. Marshall hadn’t done a rally for some time and after a respectable stage in SS1, the car suffered mechanical troubles in SS2 and the pair retired at the first service. The Clubman cars were having a little trouble too. The Gerdei combination got their Datsun 180B bogged on a tight left hand corner and lost more than 30 minutes. Steve Vass/Ryan Doe had to bow out after SS1 with mechanical troubles in their Datsun 1600 adding to the list.


By the second group of stages a few more had to retire. After a strong finish at the Experts Cup in July, the mechanical bogey plauging John Macara returned for Kirup. He and son Tahni returned to the service park early with their Lancer Evo 7 resembling  a steam locomotive. A holed radiator billowing clouds of steam and spelling the end of the rally for them. A couple more Clubman also retired around the half way point. Returning after a long break, Ross Burton brought his rear drive Corolla out for a play. With Thomas Ridden alongside the pair were entertaining the officials and having a ball. In SS3 they snapped an axle and without both wheels getting power to the road they couldn’t climb some of the hills. Justin Rickfen and Peter Barnes also retired their Honda Civic in the same stage with mechanical troubles.

The Clubman top ten

kirup_stages_percival_pearceWith four stages down, the Clubman finished their rally. Andrew Percival/Jim Pearce reported an unsettled day in thier Honda Civic. They struggled with traction and the car tended to jump out of second gear. The pair finished tenth taking some more points toward their series. Chris Bowley with Glenn Alcorn alongside did well and finished ninth in their Ford Fiesta ST behind Jake Foster/Archa Oxley who were eighth in thier Hyundai Excel. Keeping the Korean flag flying, Jon Nannen/Robert Holmes brought their silver Excel home in seventh. Dene Courtis and Robert King were a little further back than usual in their Corolla FX-GT taking sixth. The same was true for Carl & Tracey Rattenbury in their MK I Escort finishing fifth. Gaining experience and speed in their first season Lance Stringer/Jace Van saarLoos (Silvia S13) did well with fourth place and first Clubman rookie driver.

Clubman Podiumkirup_stages_douglas_burton

Alex and Lisa White hadn’t been out since the Forest Rally at the start of the year. In Kirup they took their Nissan Silvia S13 to a podium place. The Clarke pair of Mitchel and Stuart did a fine job to keep ahead of the turbo cars at this rally. With a naturally aspirated Datsun 1600 they held their own and grabbed second place by just under 12 seconds. Out in front was the thundering V8 Commodore of Kiel Douglas/Ashley Burton. The stages suited the massive torque of the orange and black machine and a fun day resulted in the win.

Out in the dark

The state cars finished the second service and headed out into the forest for the last two stages. The overcast conditions calling for lights under the tree canopy in the late afternoon.  As evening fee the remaining field completed SS5 & SS6 without retirement, however Brad & Richard Nowell had to limp to the finish. In SS6 the pair hit something solid on the inside of a left corner and broke a front suspension arm in their WRX.

WARC top ten

At the end of the rally the organisers were happy to have had an incident free day. Ehud “Ed” Powitzer/ Zachary Saratlija did a great job to get their Suzuki Vitara into tenth place. It was only Ed’s second rally and Zach’s first!


Andy Van Kann/Maddie Kirkhouse drove well to a strong ninth in their Toyota Levin behind Greg and Deeann Flood who finished eighth in their front wheel drive Lancer.  Shane Harmer/Nic Anyan took seventh place and second 2WD in their Commodore. A penalty during the first service indicated that there were some trouble sorting the car from issues on the first couple of stages. One place ahead Raz Vlad/Daymon Nicoli were sixth and first 2WD in their Fiesta ST.


Mick Steele and Chris Parish were fifth in their WRX. Mick’s normal co-driver Tracey kirup_stages_steele_parishDewhurst had to sit this one out due to injuries from a crash in a round of the Victorian rally championship. Steve Oxley and Michael  Wood had a great event keeping it neat in their current shape hatchback WRX. Having clipped a concrete barrier at the Forest rally serious repairs were needed after the first round. The car was restored to perfect health by Kirup and the pair were able to take fourth place.


WARC podium

John O’Dowd this time with Tom Wilde alongside struggled a little on this event. Problems with the centre diff and turbo boost meant they could not challenge the front runners. It was a case of banking every ounce of speed to secure third place. The result though was another healthy bag of points toward the championship. Doug Tostevin/Tammy Adams were quick in their Spec C WRX, however not quite quick enough. They finished the rally in second place a little over two miutes behind Dylan King/Abbey Hayes in their Spec C WRX. King/Hayes were car one on the road and led from the get go winning every stage.

The final round in the outright state championship will be left to decide the year. The Carrington’s Safari Rally is reknown for producing an upset and with several teams capable of lifting the title, everyone will need to be sharp.  The Safari will run in mid October in Chidlow/Sawyers valley east of Perth.

Karl Drummond

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