Earlier, Lewis Bates’ Toyota Corolla was burned out in a second stage incident that fortunately left the crew uninjured.
The clear early morning skies were soon obscured by dust on the fast shire roads outside Ballarat.
Time problems arose for Subaru do Motorsport’s Production Rally Car (PRC) class All-Wheel Drive WRX STI on the day’s equal shortest stage, SS3 Blackwood Ridge, when Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes got held up behind the struggling WRX STI of Brad Markovic.
Due to the dust, Markovic was unable to see Taylor and Hayes immediately behind – and unaware of their presence - costing the Subaru factory team valuable time.
But the real challenge for Subaru do arose on SS4, with front differential vibration indicating a possible gearbox issue, dropping them to 14th on stage and fifth overall. The pair actually stopped momentarily on stage to check the car was sufficiently sound to continue.
The duo completed the morning set of five stages in sixth overall – leaving the Les Walkden Rallying technical crew with a challenging gearbox change in service to have any hope of completing the repeat set of five afternoon stages.
A two minute time penalty for completing the repair work 24 minutes over the allotted 30 minutes put the team further behind.
But the service paid dividends, with consistent top five finishes over the balance of the day’s stages sufficient to elevate Taylor and Hayes to seventh overall.
Molly said: “It’s disappointing to have these things happen so early in the rally, but the LWR crew did a great job to turn the gearbox change around so quickly.
“This is a new rally, in a new car and the dust has certainly played a big part – but we’ll literally dust ourselves off and be back tomorrow.”
Day two covers a further eight different stages.
DAY ONE PLACINGS AFTER SS10 – PROVISIONAL RESULTS
1. BATES/McCARTHY, Toyota Corolla S2000, 1:13:50.2
2. QUINN/CALDER, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, 1:14:05.0, +00:14.8
3. WINDUS/FISHER, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, 1:14:52.9, +01:02.7
7. TAYLOR/HAYES, Subaru WRX STI, 1:18:37.7, +04:47.5