Round 1 of the Australian Rally Championship sees itself in Victoria. Ballarat hosting the opening round of the Australian Rally Championship, This is Eureka Rally. Good to see it back in Victoria after a 3 year break. Coming onboard this year as a major sponsor, we have MRF Tyres as Official Sponsor and Tyre Supplier this year for the Australian Championship. The Focus On Furniture, Victorian Rally Championship also kicks off its season as well. Brendan Reeves/Ben Searcy have entered this round in the Victorian Championship, as he will be the man to beat. So you get to see twice the action! Local driver combo of Arron Windus/Steve Fisher managed to secure a car for the event ( A Subaru WRX) and see themselves competing in the event as a welcome surprise. This should lead to some great battles. The opening ceremony was held to start things off, where the public could come out to Ballarat Mall and admire the rally bred beasts in person.
The new Mini belonging to Eli Evans could not be finished in time for the start of the event, so in turn Eli Evans/Glen Weston combo will be using a Peugeot 208 Maxi for this round. Safe to say the Mini will be ready to battle next round. With heat 1 under way, there was action and drama from the get go. SS2 had to be cancelled as the Toyota Corolla of Lewis Bates/Anthony McLoughlin had caught fire on the side of the road. The car was burnt to a shell, luckily both the driver and co-driver were okay and unharmed. The new car of Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes, an up specced version of the Subaru WRX STI, now at PRC Spec had dramas. On SS4 a vibration problem with the front diff occurred also leading to a possible gearbox problem. This saw the Subaru dropping down the time sheets. The battle at the front was a different story altogether, as the action was white hot between Harry Bates/John McCarthy and Nathan Quinn/David Calder. The 2 drivers swapping stage wins all afternoon. It looked like the combo of Nathan Quinn/David Calder in the Evo was going to take the heat win, but on the last stage of the day, stage 11, Nathan Quinn’s Evo developed a mechanical problem. This dropped him down to 7th for the stage and handed the heat victory to Harry Bates/John McCarthy. The battle for 3rd was just as intense, with Arron Windus/Steve Fisher battling Eli Evans/Glen Weston all the way to the end. Unfortunately on SS9 The Peugeot developed an electrical problem, handing the win to Arron Windus/Steve Fisher for the final podium position. An exceptional effort from Arron as he has never driven the car before and walks away with a podium in only his 2nd ARC event!
With heat 2 under way on Sunday morning, there were instant problems, which saw drivers facing massive amounts of dust, and with no wind, the dust was hanging in the air. Visibility was a major problem, meaning drivers were overshooting hairpins and miscalculating corners due to lack of vision in the thick dust. But again the battle raged between Harry Bates/John McCarthy, Eli Evans/Glen Weston and Nathan Quinn/David Calder. Heat 2 spoils going to Eli Evans/Glen Weston in their Peugeot, while 2nd was taken by Nathan Quinn/David Calder in the Evo , and 3rd to Harry Bates/John McCarthy in the Corolla. Molly Taylor/Bill Hayes managed to bring their Subaru to 4th for the heat. This meant the outright win for the weekend was to go to Harry Bates/John McCarthy, making Harry the youngest ever winner of an ARC round. Meanwhile in the Focus on Furniture, Victorian Rally Championship, Arron Windus/Steve Fisher in a Subaru WRX STI had managed to secure the outright win in the VRC for the weekend and 4th outright in the Australian Championship round as well. 2nd in VRC was Glen Raymond/ Kate Catford in a Subaru WRX STI. 3rd was the duo of Scott and Marcus Walken in a Mitsubishi Evo 9. Brendan Reeves/Ben Searcy was looking on par to take the heat 1 victory, but a problem with brake lines saw them tumble down the field, however in heat 2 they recovered and fixed the brake problem and took the heat 2 win in fine style. In the 2wd championship, Grant Walker/ Steph Richards took the honours in their Ford Escort and 6th outright! Also a special mention to Jeremy Coleman/Tim Watson in the VRC winning his class in his mighty VL Turbo! Nathan Berry / Rian Calder took outright honours in the new Fiesta one make series and Anthony Alexander/ Paul Dobson were the first Hyundai Excels home in the OurAuto Rally Series.
See below for some assorted pics from the event. Enjoy!