Molly Taylor leading the Make Smoking History Forest Rally with three stages remainingSunday, 23 April 2017
Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes have reclaimed the event lead in Heat Two of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally being held in Nannup, Western Australia today.
Following one of the closest battles in recent history during Heat One yesterday, the crew of Eli Evans/Glen Weston had pushed out to the biggest lead of any competitor so far in the rally, 16.6 seconds, after SS13.
However, their lead was just as quickly erased on SS14 when they left the road catching a ditch before (ironically for the Tankformers crew) crashing into a water tank and rolling several times.
“Coming up a fast section on hill, where you transitioned from one road to another, I obviously didn’t get the line right and slid into a ditch which in turn straightened the car up where I didn’t want it to be straight and we hit a concrete water tank of all things, which sent the car sideways through the air and we rolled. It all happen pretty quick, we were in fourth or fifth gear in excess of 100km an hour and didn’t even realise we were crashing until it was too late,” Evans explained to the sound of his crew working on every corner of the car with every tool they had.
“The rules are a bit funny with the ARC, we have a rejoin rule which allows cars to officially finish the rally by going over the final finish line, so we’re silly not to try and take advantage of that,” Evans added. “It looks like the boys have already got the car back together so we’ll get it started, make sure it’s running and hopefully salvage as many points as we can for the rally.”
With Evans’/Weston’s misfortune the rally battle flicked back to the crews of Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes, Harry Bates/John McCarthy and Nathan Quinn/Ben Searcy.
Taylor took advantage early and had Bates on her heels early before a puncture – his second for the day – saw the Toyota driver drop more than a minute on SS16.
“We’re in a good position with three stages remaining but we can’t relax too much, Nathan’s still driving really fast and Harry has just had a bit of bad luck – which can strike anyone – so we’ve got to keep our heads down and have another clean three stages and see we’re it all washes out,” Taylor said.
Quinn is now focused on consolidating his position in the event, aiming to walk away with as many Championship points as possible in order to keep second outright in the ARC from a charging Taylor.
“It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Eli and particularly Harry in that last stage, but in all honesty we’re struggling. Today we just decided we had to have a breath before we broke ourselves to try and catch up because we’re just not getting the performance out of the car so I would say we’ll just consolidate now because that should be second for the weekend and that will be a pretty good result for what this rally’s been for us,” Quinn said.
For Bates it’s about gaining as much time back to salvage as many points as possible and keep his lead in the Championship, “We’ve had to runs through Brockman today and two punctures so it’s a bit disappointing as I thought we were in the hunt to try and get the lead in there and then try beat Molly today and take my revenge for yesterday but it’s not to be so we’ll just go out there this afternoon as the bonus point for stage wins is still up for grabs so our aim now is to try and win three stages from three and have a clean run home.
The crews have now headed out to contest the final three stages of the event which will conclude around 3:30pm WST this afternoon.
More than 50 crews from across Australia are contesting the Make Smoking History Forest Rally through the forests of Nannup and around the electric Trade Hire Busselton Special Stage. The event is the second round of both the CAMS Australian Rally Championship® and the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship.
Photo: Michele Seymour