The second round of the Gary's Motorsport Tyres 2015 CAMS NSW Rally Championship, the National Capital Rally, was a challenging event for all crews, with many upsets and surprising turns.
Chris Giddins and Damian Grahame once again were a force to be reckoned with, keeping cool and calm while producing some brilliant stage times to win the event and take the lead in the Championship.
The NSWRC event was held on the Saturday of the weekend-long ARC event, over 100km of bony, challenging roads in Kowen Forest.
The drama started early for the crews contesting the Championship, with Richie Dalton and John Allen rolling their Evo IX in the second stage, after winning the first by over 2 seconds. The car had undergone repairs the night prior, after it was damaged flying over a massive jump during the VIP ride day on Friday.
Dalton described the car as “nervous” after the first stage and was noticeably uncomfortable with it. It was on a second gear left hand corner that the car clipped a bank as Richie tried to compensate for the over steer by turning in a little too early.
Michael South and Justin Goodreid set a cracking pace in the first stage, finishing 2 seconds behind Dalton/Allen and 6 seconds ahead of rivals Giddins/Grahame. The challenge was fierce between the two crews over the next two stages, but after a flat tyre, a close call with a bank and then a complete engine failure, South/Goodreid DNF’d in SS3.
Newcomer to the sport JJ Hatton, and his co-driver Tim Joass, set the fastest times on SS4 and SS5, finishing the event in second place overall. The result is a great achievement from Hatton off the back of a rollover in Rally Vic in 2014 and a mechanical DNF at the Bombala Rally earlier this year. Given that it’s the first event the crew have written their own notes, and the car was untested, it’s an outstanding result.
Brett Stephens and Tony Brandon had a spectacular run in the Nissan Bluebird to finish 3rd overall, and 1st 2WD. The crew continued their rally on the Sunday, unfortunately retiring early after a minor roll, parking the car on its side, causing some cosmetic damage. Stephens is unsure how it happened, but has questioned whether the control arm broke before or during the roll.
Fourth place was taken by a solid, consistent performance by Gerald Schofield/Ellie Yates in a Lancer Evo IX.
Following a challenging year in 2014, and an unfortunate DNF at the first round of the Championship in Glen Innes earlier this year, Tim Wilkins not only made it to the finish, but did so in fifth place, while also setting the fastest time on the sixth stage. Wilkins has shown plenty of resilience these past twelve months, and his result at the National Capital Rally can only be proof of great things to come for the young driver.
The day concluded with only 3 minutes separating the top five crews:
The Championship overall is now being led by Chris Giddins, followed by Peter King and Meng Chung, proving again that consistency is key to a successful year.
Photo courtesy of Unleashed Photography, full gallery: http://www.unleashedphotography.com.au/CRG/NATCAP2015/index.html