Timothy Auty and Jon Mitchell have extended their lead at the top of the CAMS Dunlop Motul Tasmanian Rally Championship (TRC) after a huge weekend in Launceston for the Subaru Rally Tasmania.
The Mazda 323 pilots were in fine form throughout the event, and were also entered in the CAMS Australian Rally Championship (ARC) third round, where they performed superbly to claim a cool fifth outright.
It wasn’t all easy for the leaders though with Kurt Wylie and Damien Roach finishing just two points behind in second place after finishing runner-up in both heats.
Rounding out the podium were Ben Newman and Adam Kudra in their Subaru Impreza with the pair’s consistency was rewarded after finishing fourth in both heats.
Two top-five heats placing to Daniel Traverso alongside experienced co-driver Andy Sarandis saw him fourth outright ahead of Heat two winner and reigning TRC champion Bodie Reading and his co-driver Mark Young.
The fourth place finish also sees Traverso move up the outright standings to second place behind Auty due to Peter Nunn’s absence from the round.
Nunn and co-driver Keith Johnston drop to fifth outright in both the driver and co-driver standings with the Subaru Rally Tasmania seventh placed Troy Johnson and Aaron Saunders and event runner-ups Wylie and Roach jumping above them.
Off the blocks for the Mazda
Auty and Mitchell started the event with purpose and three straight stage wins, including a 40-second win in the second stage gave the Mazda drivers some breathing space early on.
Reading made up for lost time in the middle section of the heat, claiming the next three stages but an incident on the eighth saw Reading’s day done, allowing Auty and Mitchell to cruise to eventual heat honours with the next four stage wins
It was going to take something miraculous to knock Auty and Mitchell off the summit, and the event was effectively all but over by the third stage of the final day as the Mazda ran the fastest time in the opening two stages.
A win on the final stage was the perfect ending to the duo’s solid weekend and gave them more to cheer about as well as their well-deserved top five finish.
Reading shows fighting spirit
Bodie Reading was going into the event with everything to play for as it was his first hit out for 2019. With his idol Simon Evans also competing in the ARC, the 22-year-old was ready to show what he had in his national debut.
Unfortunately, the first heat was one to forget for the youngster with the local Tasmanian failing to finish the final four heats of the day, as well as losing a lot of time in the day’s second stage.
The bad day didn’t prevent him from going hard in the second heat and the move paid dividends with Reading and Mitchell taking out the heat win.
The duo fell behind the winning Subaru in the opening two stages of the day but managed to win the next three, including comfortable 30 second wins on the 14th and 16th stages.
While he may not have won the outright round, Reading showed plenty of fight and channelled his inner Evans to claw his way back into the fight.
The CAMS Dunlop Motul Tasmania Rally Championship’s next round is the Rocky Cape Sprint on 31 August.