The decade of WA Rally 2010 – 2019

Cars lined up for the start of the 2019 WA Rally season

At the end of every year we do look back at the season however this time I’m going to look back on the whole decade. The last time I did one of these I typed it all out which just goes to show how much has changed in 10 years. So let’s have a look at the decade of WA Rally from 2010 to 2019.

In 2010 rallying in WA and the world shifted up a gear, pardon the pun. Mostly that was driven by the rise of social media and the prominence of smart phones. That would certainly increase traffic to Facebook and YouTube. WA Rally would feature in that along with Kenny from the block and his Gymkhana videos.

2010 WA Rally Championship

Five rallies would decide the 2010 WA rally championship and there were some new names coming forth. Those would end up being inscribed in the books as the winners. Round one was the Donnelly rally which ran in March uncharacteristically as it normally ran in August or Sept. The challenge for the 2010 title would start early on the dusty roads.

Despite the packed calendar at the start of the year the Experts Cup rally towards the end of the WA rally season actually had 40 entries. After that fourth round the points were tight which meant the Safari rally at the end of the year would be the decider. That would happen quite a few times during the decade.

2010 winners

After nine special stages only 16 of the original 35 cars at that particular rally finished the event. It just shows how much of a rough rally the Safari was back then. Out of those it was brother and sister Tom and Nerralie Wilde that would win the 2010 WA Rally championship.

Sideways on a WA Rally stage in a Mk1 Escort.


Come 2011 and we’d hear more from Tom Wilde. He went on and won the Junior Australian Rally Challenge.  The WA Rally championship had five rounds as it had previous year. There were some changes in the wind for Clubman. Due to some unrest in Clubman the rules were amended. Basically it had to do with abolishing pace notes and keeping the rallies to a more affordable and competitive level.

Over that five round championship in 2011 it was Leigh Hynes and Stuart Percival that won the outright WA rally championship in their left-hand Drive orange WRX. They’d have another win up their sleeve during the decade.

2012 makes the Clubman Great

 By 2012 the proposed rules from 2011 had great effect in the Clubman. The entry numbers increased and the competition was healthy. In 2012 history was also created again by Tom Wilde again. This time he won the forest rally outright at national level. It was the first time that a West Australian had actually won the forest rally since Rob Herridge had done it in 1992.

Another name would show prominence during that year and it was Dylan King. In his MK2 Ford Escort he actually won the two wheel drive WA rally championship. At 17 years old, he was the youngest competitor to ever do so.

Winning the WA rally state championship outright was Alex Stone and Hannah Drury in their WRX. Alex had a title or two under his belt already prior to 2012.

2013 – 4WD is still faster!

2013 and the premiere category in the Australian Rally Championship had changed to two-wheel drive. It was ironic that at the Forest Rally privateers in the WA rally championship actually had faster more powerful cars than the outright category of the ARC.

Tom Wilde’s speed hadn’t gone unnoticed and he was picked up as a works driver for Renault. He drove a left hand drive Clio and had some mixed results at national level. During the year he got on the podium however at times an electrical problem hampered the car.

Taking over the Safari

Come the end of the season and the Safari Rally and I’d taken over as Clerk of Course. At that event car one was Alex and Hannah. Five kilometers into stage one they rolled their WRX at the same corner Sean Keating had rolled at in 2012. Not the most auspicious start to being the clerk of course and of course not good for Alex and Hannah either. Luckily neither of them were hurt and the car repairs weren’t too bad.

Sean Keating and Cash showering photographers in dust at the 2014 Forest Rally

That year the WA Rally championship went to Leigh Hynes and Stuart Percival. Their 2nd for the decade however 2014 would see changing fortunes for the pair.

2014 Almost halfway there

2014 dawned and we were almost midway through the decade. It was very memorable for a number of reasons, not least was the Forest Rally celebrating its 30th anniversary. Sean Keating made for a spectacular video when he sprayed photographers with dust in his Nissan Silvia on one stage.

During 2014 the Light Car Club had staged somewhat of a coup. They’d managed to get access to the tree plantation that we once knew as Bunnings. The event ran on the June long weekend and was known as the Newmont Boddington rally. It was the first time that rally cars had been over the jumps and water splash using those stages since Rally Australia was cancelled in 2006.

In the headlines again

 Come the end of the WA rally season and I was at the helm for the second year in a row running the Safari. Everything looked good to go when we made history for all the wrong reasons. On the very first stage car four and car five crashed. They crashed at separate points in the stage about five kilometers apart. Unfortunately both crews needed medical attention. It was the first time ever on a rally that two consecutive cars had crashed at separate points on the same stage.

Basically what ensued was a bit of a political struggle between ambulance services the rescue helicopter and the fire brigade. Thankfully out of all that the drivers Brad Markovic and Leigh Hynes made a full recovery.  

2014 Boddington. WA Rally got to use the famous jumps and water splash once more.

The Safari would also be the decider for the 2014 state title. It was a shocked Doug Tostevin and Tammy Adams that were at the finish when they were told the news. They basically side stepped the drama of the day and won the event and the WA Rally Championship with it.

2015 – The Darkest Hour

 The early part of the 2015 season is likely to be remembered as one of the darkest in WA rally history. Unfortunately at the Donnelly rally a freak accident killed one spectator and injured two others. It was something that nobody had ever envisaged and hoped it would never happen again.

 Donnelly sent serious shockwaves through the sport and there was some knock-on effects. The next event the Boddington rally had to be cancelled. The owners of the plantation cited Donnelly rally as the reason and not wanting to have the same dramas on their property.

The end of the season and the Safari rally would also be the decider for the championship again, surprise surprise! For the third time in a row I was at the helm as Clerk of course. We ran the event again wanting to go out on a high note. We did very well with 47 entries. We surpassed the Boddington rally the previous year and set the highest entry numbers for the decade.

 The weather was very hot as it was almost 40° on that day. Out of the 47 entries the field was leveled to about 50% by the rally’s end. Brad Markovic and Glenn Macneal exercised their demons from 2014 and won the 50th Safari Rally. Gary Whittle however would go on to win the WA Rally championship for the year in his WRX.

2016 – WA Rally goes Viral

2016 and rallying would be in the spotlight again this time particularly in social media. It was actually the Forest Rally the first round of the year. It was Sean Keating and Caleb “Cash” Ash who made the headlines. They’d swapped their Nissan Sylvia for a WRX though Sean hadn’t changed any of his hard-driving style. On one particular corner of a fast stage they went off the road and down a steep embankment rolling their WRX at high speed.

 The two of them walked away from the crash thankfully. They did however document their aftermath with a smart phone and made a video. The video went viral and had hundreds of thousands of views on both Facebook and YouTube. Their entertaining video really does demonstrate rally safety quite well. Here’s the Youtube video.

Apart from the Forest there were some other major changes in the WA rally championship. After the effects of the Donnelly rally in 2015 the event was abandoned. A new event, the Karri rally was run out Manjimup as round 2.

Changes to Boddington

 The other major change was to the Boddington rally. Unfortunately there still wasn’t access allowed to the old Bunnings plantation so effectively for the rest of a decade those roads were out.  Instead the car club worked together with the locals and got onto some private tree plantations. They put together a rally which was quite good and effectively it was a brand new event. Clubman numbers reached their peak, with 50% of the Boddington field being Clubman entries.

 History would repeat itself with the Safari Rally at the end of the year. The event would be the WA Rally Championship decider again. It was a tough battle between a number of teams and it would be Dylan King and Abbey Hayes that won in their red Spec C WRX.

2017 The little engine that could

 2017 was the year of the little engine that could. It will be remembered because a David and Goliath battle developed that ended with Tom Wilde and Maddie Kirkhouse doing something that everyone thought near on impossible. They won the 2017 WA Rally Championship in a two-wheel drive Honda Civic.

Yes that’s right. A two-wheel drive, non-turbocharged, 1990s Honda Civic, won the WA Rally Championship against  four-wheel drive turbo cars! The last time that a two-wheel drive car had won the state Rally Championship was in 1992 so 25 years of quarter of a century earlier! Oh and it was the first time this decade that a non Subaru won the state Rally Championship.

Tom Wilde and Maddie Kirkhouse do the impossible and win the 2017 WA Rally Championship in thier Honda Civic

2018 Shaken and Stirred

2018 was a year the WA Rally calendar was shaken and stirred. Basically there was a lot of movement between rallies and dates during the year particularly in the planning stages. Effectively what happened in the end was the Experts Cup moved dates to September and the Kirup Stages rally moved to July. The Safari rally also relocated to Boddington from its decade long home in Mundaring.

 On top of all that the Darling 200 rally that was slated to run later in the year and to be cancelled due to controlled burns. Given the situation that’s going on in the eastern states at the moment with devastating bush fires well it’s totally understandable why the rally should be cancelled due to fire.

 Out of all that the Light Car Club ran a standalone rally sprint to finish off the year. The 2018 WA Rally championship winner was John O’Dowd in you guessed it, a WRX.

2019 The rise of R5

 2019 saw the introduction of a new generation of cars in the WA Rally Championship. John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver had acquired a R5 Skoda Fabia. Now if you’re not sure what an R5 car is, click here for the blog post on what R5 and AP4 cars are.

Despite how advanced the R5 cars are it was ironic that at the Forest Rally Tom Wilde was actually leading the event in the WRX that John O’Dowd had won in previously. If not for turbo trouble and a flat tire on the last day, Tom and girlfriend Maddie would have won the rally. Instead John and Toni won the event and it’s something that they would continue to do for the rest of the season.

Aside from the R5 car and the debate that that it provoked there were some other changes as well. Most notable was the transformation of the Darling 200. The date changed from November when it was very hot and dusty to September. There was a dramatic difference. On top of that the Darling 200 was also brought on stream as a full round of the WARC rather than a two-wheel drive and Clubman only event.

The Experts Cup in Collie moved again. September wasn’t late enough in the year so it ran in October as the final round of the 2019 WA rally championship. John and Toni would win a second state title closing out the decade.

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