State News: Perfect O’Dowd makes it three from three

John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver have continued their perfect start to the 2019 CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship, claiming a clean sweep in the Better Value Tyres Safari Rally.

The Skoda Fabia R5 pilots were in impeccable form throughout the day, picking up the fastest time in every stage to finish three minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Craig Rando and Matthew Scafidi.

Coming in at third place, one minute and 12 seconds behind the Rando Constructions Subaru WRX STI was Razvan and Ioana Vlad in their Ford Fiesta.

Despite O’Dowd picking up his third-straight win of the season in convincing fashion, the Gooseberry Hill resident was relieved to lead the way after a few of the other title contenders did not score points.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year”, O’Dowd said.

“Unfortunately Kody Reynolds had some problems mid-way through the day and had to retire, and Stephen Oxley and Ben Searcy weren’t competing here. So just by finishing here, we’ve now built a pretty comfortable lead in the championship.

“The Boddington Safari is always a great event. I’ve got to say a massive thanks to the organisers, all of the officials and volunteers who work so hard to run such a great event, and Better Value Tyres who were the naming rights sponsor.

“We’re really lucky here in WA to have such great local support, and everyone worked together to put on a fantastic event.

While the Vlads may not have come away with the outright victory, they didn’t go home empty handed with the husband and wife team taking out the 2WD class win.

Unlike O’Dowd, the crew had to work hard for their victory, picking up four of the five stage wins to end the event with 24 second gap over the class’ second placed Mike Joss and Megan Logue.

“It was a good rally for us. Even though the 4WD cars have more traction, when it’s really dusty and you can’t see much, that doesn’t make much difference,” Vlad added.

“Mike Joss wasn’t far behind us and he had a good road position being first car on the stage, so we pushed to win because we will be on holiday and missing the next rally. We’ll be back for the last two rounds.”

Although both victors didn’t seem to have any immediate trouble on the course, other competitors were having difficulties finishing the tough event due to the lack of rain and unseasonal warm weather causing dusty conditions.

Clerk of Course Wendy Walker believed the event was a true representation of a safari rally, as seven of the 20 starting competitors failed to finish the event.

“It was dusty, rough, fast, tight and twisty. There was no wind so the dust just hung. As a result, in the final stage, we increased the gap between cars to three minutes,” Walker explained.

“There were a few mechanical failures and a couple of drivers were ill, but otherwise it was an incident free rally.

“It was rough on Marradong stage, but that’s the last time that stage will be used. In fact, it’s the last time the Boddington Safari will be run as in its current format due to the sale of land we’ve used for rallying, but we’re working hard on other options.”

The next round of the CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship is Wheels on Yirrigan Kumho Tyre Kirup Rally in Kirup on 6 July.