Subaru do Motorsport team finished Heat 1 of the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in fourth place after 10 stages that began last night in Busselton, WA.
The second round of the 2018 CAMS Australian Rally Championship began last night with two quick runs through the 2.7 kilometre Trade Hire Busselton Super Special Stage, with Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read recording a fifth and sixth place in the Production Rally Car class All-Wheel Drive WRX STI.
It was a pattern pretty much repeated across today’s four morning stages in the Les Walkden Rallying-prepared WRX STI.
Eli Evans dominated in his Skoda Fabia R5, a late substitute for his usual Mini Cooper.
Taylor and Read’s morning highlights were a couple of fourth places on SS3 Dugite 1 and the morning’s final stage, SS16 Ellis 1 – placing them fourth overall going into midday service.
That was despite a spin on SS4 Ferndale 1, which cost the pair around 10 seconds on the day’s equal longest stage, at 21.34 km.
There was more serious drama for a couple of other early contenders: Adrian Coppin’s Skoda broke a control arm on SS4 and Harry Bates’ Toyota Yaris went down an embankment on SS6, prematurely ending his day, though he is expected to re-start tomorrow.
The afternoon comprised two long stages with the weekend’s two shortest – SS9 and 10 Nannup Oval 1 and 2 – at just 0.85 km.
Another fourth place on SS7, the repeat of Dugite, consolidated the Subaru do hold on overall fourth.
The second run through the long-distance Ferndale, SS8, produced an impressive third place.
The two blasts round Nannup Oval resulted in two fourth places, to consolidate the fourth place finish.
The team is now well positioned for valuable points across the weekend.
Molly said: “We’ve been through the faster stages with plenty of grip, but equally we’ve struggled with a couple of minor changes, which have cost us a bit of pace, so we will be looking to resolve those by tomorrow.
“Having said that, some key competitors have had bigger issues to deal with today, so we’re pretty happy to be in fourth overall at the end of Heat 1.”
Heat 2 begins tonight with a 5.28 km run through Busselton’s Barnard Park.
The rally concludes tomorrow afternoon after a further seven stages near Nannup, WA, with the heat totalling 109.92 km.
MAKE SMOKING HISTORY HEAT 1 PROVISIONAL RESULTS (subject to CAMS final confirmation)
1. EVANS/SEARCY, Skoda Fabia R5, 1:02:10.5
2. GLENNEY/SARANDIS, WRX STI, 1:04:11.9
3. RAYMOND/CATFORD, Impreza WRX STI, 1:04:41.6
4. TAYLOR/READ, WRX STI, 1:05:36.6
CAMS AUSTRALIAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR 2018
Round 2 – Make Smoking History Forest Rally, WA, 27-29 April
Round 3 – Netier National Capital Rally, Canberra, 1-3 June
Round 4 – Rally Tasmania 27-29 July
Round 5 – Adelaide Hills Rally SA, 21-23 September
Round 6 – Kennards Hire Rally Australia, Coffs Harbour, 15-18 November