Rally Australia – the best of the rest

Kennards Hire Rally Australia is always a tough event, throwing challenges at competitors over three gruelling days and 319 competitive kilometres.

2018 proved no different, many competitors labelling the event ‘brutal’ and the attrition rate was high. But as always, this opens the door for some of the lesser-known crews to shine and shine they did.

Steve Glenney and Andy Sarandis achieved a well deserved CAMS Australian Rally Championship round win on the Coffs Coast, although it was no surprise as Glenney has pushed the likes of Bates, Taylor and Evans all season.

However, it was Luke Anear and Jon Mitchell that were perhaps the biggest surprise packet of the event, with Rally Australia being only Anear’s third career gravel rally in the very tidy Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

Since making his debut at Subaru Rally Tasmania earlier this year, the signs for a good result were there – Anear finishing all seven heats he competed thus achieving a very commendable ninth outright in Tasmania and sixth outright in South Australia.

With an ARC podium under his belt and plans in the pipeline to possibly upgrade his Subaru WRX in 2019, Anear will be one to watch.

Andrew Penny on the podium is just a great story. Long-time ARC competitor, five starts at Rally Australia, and just one finish – the event has been a challenging one for the boy from Jindabyne.

Penny and co-driver Rhys Lewellyn showed their experience and teamwork at Rally Australia this year – they set their own pace, kept it tidy and just kept climbing through the field. And the best bit – they laughed all the way. Seeing the pure enjoyment of the event for them and their team is a good reminder to everyone of what rallying is all about.

Finishing just off the podium in fourth outright was Peter Dunn and Ray Priest. This duo snuck through the field to pop up on the final day but it was no easy task for them to get there.

Fondly referred to as the ‘WRC Tank’, Dunn’s WRX STi did it the hard way – copping an intake full of water three kilometres into the event and developing a severe misfire. the misfire was solved but the crew were left with a severe lack of power. Dunn reported this meant “lots of shortshifting and a big lack of top end speed…Nothing that corner speed and commitment can’t minimise.”

It’s exciting times for Dunn, who has much to look forward to in 2019 when he will debut the Subaru BRZ AP4 that he has spent over 12 months building.

Lindsay Collits and Brad Dawson did an outstanding job in their Holden Commodore Ute and were rewarded with first in 2WD class and sixth outright in the ARC field. Equally, Kevin Raedel and Anthony Carr also did well to wrestle the Ford Falcon XR6 to eighth outright.

Lewis Bates continued to impress as he took the faithful Toyota Corolla S2000 through it’s paces for the final time at an ARC event – all going well, Bates will start 2019 in the second Yaris AP4.

Bates and Anthony McLoughlin had a tough day one, landing hard on the same jump as Eli Evans and damaging an oil line, but the pair took it in their stride to recover well and climb to seventh outright. They were also third outright on day three and third on the ASN podium in the WRC field, experience which will serve Bates well next year and beyond.

Justin Hatton and Nathan Long could be forgiven for wondering what might have been, The pair were quick in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX early, even leading the event for a short time on day one, but a run in with a bank and subsequent damaged suspension caused them issues for the remainder of the event. Just getting the Evo to the finish is a credit to them and the White Wolf Racing team, their perseverance reward with a finish inside the top ten.

Ben and Cathy Hayes rounded out the top ten in their Holden SS Commodore. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the husband and wife team, with a destroyed radiator, control arm, rear upright, rear strut, & four punctures, the pair were thrilled to finish and to walk away with third 2WD.

Worth a mention is Wayne Morton and Kirra Penny. This youthful pair show as a DNF on the official results but the young Queensland driver and daughter of Andrew Penny were on for a podium finish until ‘Sami’, the trusty Toyota Corolla S2000, collected a stump on the first stage, taking an off road excursion and getting bogged. For more than two days these two showed what they are capable of and will no doubt challenge for positions at the pointy end in 2019.