State News: Akademos win for Lee, Vic Championship for Hayes

Matt Lee and Cathy Elliot claimed victory at the weekend’s Akademos Rally, however it was Ben and Cathy Hayes who were the big winners as their third place gave them an unassailable points lead in the Focus on Furniture and Bedding Victorian Rally Championship (VRC).

The penultimate round of the VRC was run in perfect conditions on Sunday, with a field of 40 enjoying the challenging roads around Alexandra, Victoria.

The battle was on between Lee and Hayes from the outset, the pair trading stage wins in the four-stage heat one.

Ivan Regester and Paul Humm were in the hunt early, hoping to improve their second place in the VRC pointscore but it wasn’t to be, as they were forced to retire their Subaru WRX STi on the second stage, ending their Championship hopes.

Paul Eccles and Tom Ruessman also saw their Championship challenge end on the second stage, leaving the road in their Subaru WRX. Fortunately they were able to recover the car and rejoin at heat two.

Hayes took out heat one by a slim 19 seconds, with Lee second and Wayne Stewart and Daniel Brkic third.

Ben Hayes on his way to the Victorian Rally Championship at the Akademos Rally. Image: BTeam Rally Media

Lee dominated heat two in his Subaru WRX STi, taking all four stage wins and holding a commanding one minute and 23 second lead after four stages. Stewart was second while Luke Sytema and Adam Wright brought the two-wheel-drive Ford Escort Mk2 home in third.

The outright win was Lee’s second for the year, the former Australian Rally Championship winning co-driver taking out the VRC round win at The Courier Eureka Rally in March.

Second outright went to Stewart and Brkic, their successful weekend elevating Brkic to second in the Co-driver Championship standings.

Luke Sytema and Adam Wright in the Ford Escort RS1800. Image: BTeam Rally Media

In the 2WD class, Sytema and Wright took the overall win in the Escort, with Grant Walker and Steph Richards second and Tony Moore and Troy Hutchins third in the Ford Focus ST.

The George Derrick Memorial Trial will be the final round of the 2018 VRC at Heyfield on 24 November.