John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver have made it two consecutive wins in the CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australia Rally Championship after taking out a clean sweep in the 2019 Trade Hire Karri Rally.
The Truck Wholesale WA Skoda Fabia R5 pilots barely put a foot wrong throughout the whole rally, with the duo finishing more than five minutes ahead of their closest rivals.
Coming in at second place was 2018 CAMS Rally Australian Champion Co-driver Ben Searcy, who is in the drivers’ seat this year and his partner Jimmy Marquet, while Stephen and Archa Oxley rounded out the podium.
With 20 drivers tackling the six-stage course, the first half of the rally witnessed some close racing between the top four crews with just under two minutes separating first to fourth.
In the fourth and fifth stages, O’Dowd continued to slowly build his gap over the second-placed Searcy and Marquet as the Mitsubishi pilots finished behind the Oxleys.
The final blow came in the final stage as O’Dowd and Feaver put on a masterclass to steer their Skoda to a four-minute stage win over the Oxleys’ Subaru Impreza and extend their lead to over five minutes ahead of Searcy and Feaver.
Following the emphatic start to the season, which saw O’Dowd also place in the top five during the ARC’s visit out west, O’Dowd put his form down to the quality of his new WRC2 spec car and co-driver.
“I’m becoming more familiar with the car and I definitely feel like I have an advantage – on the long straights we reached speeds in excess of 180 kilometres per hour,” O’Dowd said.
“The car is awesome. The stages were good, especially the first two stages, the third one was narrow and sandy. We had a good clean rally, which was tight technical in some parts and I believe I can go faster.
“Toni did a great job, as did Race Torque who prepare the car. It was a well organised event and I’d like to thank all the volunteers. I couldn’t be happier, it’s a good start to the championship for us.”
In a thrilling 2WD class contest, husband and wife team Razman Vlad and Ioana Vlad finished the event with top honours over Andrew Pinker and Caleb Ash, while Ford Escort pilots Glenn Alcorn and Shaun McMacken made up the top three.
“The car was perfect, no issues at all. It was a close fight with Andrew Pinker and he did a good job in my old car, the Hyundai,” Razman said.
“Andrew was ahead of us after four stages, then we managed to get ahead of him in the last split, but it’s come down to derived times after the incident, which is unfortunate but the way it happens sometimes.”
The next round of the CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australia Rally Championship is the MRF Tyres Boddington Safari on 2 June.