Home > RallyWA News > Chaos and calamity at Kirup as the battle for the championship intensifies

Chaos and calamity at Kirup as the battle for the championship intensifies

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Wheels on Yirrigan Kumbo Tyre Kirup Stages rally, the penultimate round of the CAMS Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC), on Saturday proved to be a challenge for competitors with spins, offs and punctures abound.

 

In near perfect conditions over 100 competitive kilometres on six forest stages near Grimwade and Kirup, competitors pushed hard to finish fastest to secure hopes of a championship title. Going into the rally, just 32 points separated the top three competitors.

 

After a 40-minute delayed start due to a radio repeater system issue, competition got underway and last year’s State Champion, Dylan King and co-driver Lee Tierney, dominated to win the first four stages before suffering a mechanical failure in their 2006 Subaru WRX STI in Stage 5 forcing retirement.

 

Winning his first ever WARC event, Stephen Oxley and co-driver Mike Wood had a few dramas in the last stage, getting caught in dust and overshooting a few turns, losing time.

 

“I was surprised that we won given how much time we lost in the last stage, but thrilled nonetheless – there’s been plenty of times I’ve been the bridesmaid, so it’s great to finally get a win,” Oxley said.

 

“It’s a well organised event with good stages – we had a great day, besides a spin at the end of stage one and the last stage which was stressful – getting a win has brought our championship chances alive, which is exciting.”

 

Oxley said he was happy with how his Subaru WRX STI performed given he is running a standard engine and synchromesh gearbox that isn’t as fast as some of the worked gearboxes run by other competitors.

 

In second place and maintaining second place in the WARC, was John O’Dowd and co-driver Ken Sheil who also had their fair share of drama.

 

“It was a tough day at the office,” O’Dowd said.

 

ODowd Kirup

 

At the first service, a hole in the casing of the rear differential was discovered and a quick decision was made to replace the complete unit there and then, rather than risk patching it. Despite the successful changeover, drama ensued for O’Dowd.

 

“I ran wide on a corner on stage four and the back wheel of the Subaru hit a tree stump,” O’Dowd said.

 

After losing time during that off, O’Dowd, in his Maximum Motorsport Subaru WRX STI, clawed back time by winning the two final stages to claim the second podium step.

 

Finishing the rally in third place with their own set of dramas was championship leader Tom Wilde and his co-driver Madelin Kirkhouse in their Verandah Apartments sponsored 2WD 1993 Honda Civic.

 

“The Dragon stage was one of the best rally stages I’ve driven, ever,” Wilde said, referring to SS3.

 

“We were coming second but then on the last stage I made an error, my first major mistake of the year. It was night and I went too fast hit a bank side on popping the two left hand side tyres off the rims – it’s lucky we didn’t roll the car.

 

Tom Wilde Kirup 698x396px

 

“We rolled the tyres back on the rims, in the dark, and then O’Dowd went past and we were caught in his dust. Given how much time we lost, we’re lucky to take third place.”

 

Wilde / Kirkhouse have won the WARC for 2WD vehicles with two rounds to go; their lead impossible to beat.

 

“It’s a huge achievement to win the 2WD Championship and I’ve learned a lot. Now our focus is the outright title,” Wilde said.

 

In their 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Brad and Roger Nowell had a spectacular off in SS2, flying through the finish they kept going, hitting a lip that saw them airborne over a tree stump to crash land in the bush, out of sight. No one was injured, but it forced retirement.

 

Wilde / Kirkhouse have a 27-point championship lead over O’Dowd / Sheil. Oxley / Wood trail O’Dowd by 18 points. This battle sets up a cliff hanger in the final round, the Carringtons Traffic Services Safari Rally on 14 October.

 

WARC Overall
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 5 OXLEY
WOOD
Subaru
Impreza WRX STI
01:10:02.1
+
2 2 O’DOWD
SHEIL
Subaru
Impreza WRX STI
01:12:31.3
+02:29.2
3 3 WILDE
KIRKHOUSE
Honda
Civic
01:15:24.6
+05:22.5

 

 

2WD

 

Tom Wilde and Madelin Kirkhouse finished third outright, and won the 2WD category convincingly.

 

Their 144-point lead in the championship means that they are uncatchable, thus winning the 2017 WARC 2WD category with two rounds to go.

 

Greg Flood Kirup 698x396px

 

In second place 1:49 minutes behind was Gregory and Deann Flood in their 1994 Mitsubishi Lancer. Third place went to Benjamin Perard and Chris Parish in their 2009 Ford Fiesta.

 

Perard Kirup 698x396px

 

It was a serendipitous moment for Razvan Vlad and Daymon Nicoli who had mechanical issues on SS5 and stopped at the road closure point, which happened to be the road closure where Vlad’s wife and RallyWA Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Ioana Vlad, was stationed. This was Dr Vlad’s last rally as Chief Medical Officer.

 

RallyWA Chairman Ross Tapper paid tribute to Dr Vlad and thanked her for four years of service at both gravel and tarmac rallies in WA.

 

Ioana Vlad Kirup 698x396px

 

“Dr Vlad has been an asset to RallyWA and we wish her all the best in her busy career working in four hospitals in three different states as well as studying for her Masters Degree,” Tapper said.

 

Dr Trishna Bhalla will step into the Chief Medical Officer’s role; she comes from a rallying family in Kenya.

 

2WD Overall
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 3 WILDE
KIRKHOUSE
Honda
Civic
01:15:24.6
+
2 10 FLOOD
FLOOD
Mitsubishi
Lancer
01:17:14.1
+01:49.5
3 14 PERARD
PARISH
Ford
Fiesta
01:20:09.2
+04:44.6

 

Clubman Cup & Clubman Masters

 

Clubman Cup distance was just under 65 competitive kilometres, finishing before the evening stages commenced for the WARC Outright and 2WD categories.

 

 

Graeme Miles and co-driver Kathy Miles lead the Clubman Cup from get go, winning the first two stages, coming second on SS3 and fifth in SS4 in their 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer.

 

Finishing second was Andrew Percival and co-driver Jim Pearce in their 1997 Honda Civic. Third place went to Tim Bayer and co-driver Garry McCagh in their 1998 Hyundai Excel.

 

In the Clubman Masters, a new category in 2017 for seeded drivers or drivers who have won past championships, saw Julian Wright and co-driver Jeff Huggins in a 1971 Datsun 1200 take a convincing win over Dene Courtis and Robert King in a 1990 Toyota Corolla.

 

 

Clubman Cup Overall
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 23 MILES
MILES
Mitsubishi
Lancer
50:59.7
+
2 22 PERCIVAL
PEARCE
Honda
Civic
52:17.5
+01:17.8
3 25 BAYER
MCCAGH
Hyundai
Excel
52:26.1
+01:26.4

 

 

Clubman Masters Overall
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 18 WRIGHT
HUGGINS
Datsun
1200 Coupe
47:50.8
+
2 20 COURTIS
KING
Toyota
Corolla FX GT
49:23.5
+01:32.7

 

 

NEXT

 

The final round for WARC competitors, and the penultimate round for 2WD, Clubman Cup and Clubman Masters competitor is next, the Carringtons Traffic Services Safari Rally on 14th October 2017 around Childlow and Mundaring.

 

Photos: Paul van der Mey, Tim Allott

recommended reading