States buzzing in rally bonanza

Ahead of this weekend’s Queensland and Western Australia rally rounds, previews the Inspirations Paint Capalaba Hinterland Rally and the Darling 200 Rally and what results mean for each championship.

Inspirations Paint Capalaba Hinterland Rally

The fourth and final round of the P3 Solutions CAMS Queensland Rally Championship will have a healthy field of 42 crews do battle on the closed roads of the picturesque Imbil State Forest.

Throughout the event, crews will tackle 116 competitive kilometres across 10 stages, including two night time special stages adding to the excitement of the season finale.

As it stands, Brayden Wilson is on track to claim his maiden state title after podium finishes in all three rounds, including his first ever round victory in June’s SR Automotive Manumbar Rally.

Wilson currently sits on 61 points, 23 points ahead of round one winner Marius Swart and Melinda Bergmann, while 2018 Motor Traders Association CAMS NSW Rally Championship winner Glenn Brinkman occupies fourth spot and is the only other title contender on 36 points.

Mathematically each driver has a shot at the title but it’s highly unlikely, especially with a maximum of 25 points on offer for first place, a further 20 points for second and 16 available for third place.

With this said, Wilson effectively has one hand on the trophy, but he still needs to finish the rally to receive a point as a safety net should Brinkman or Bergmann manage to win the event.

Bergmann is in the best place to steal the title, however she needs win her first rally for the year to pick up those valuable 25 points, as well as needing Wilson to finish 10th or lower. A ninth place to the leader or anything lower than the top step for Bergmann ends her bid.

As for Brinkman, he needs a bit of a miracle – a second consecutive round victory and a DNF from Wilson. But even then, he would still draw level with the round two winner and share the spoils of the title, in which a count back would determine the winner.

Following the release of the 42-crew entry list, the biggest absentee is Swart, meaning his bid for the title is over, especially since the championship requires a driver to have competed in at least 60 per cent or three rounds of the year to be eligible for championship points.

It’s a different story in the co-drivers championship with Wilson’s co-driver Blake Wilson in second place, five points behind Swart’s co-driver Alan Stean on 63 points, while Bergmann’s co-driver in Larisa Bigger rounds out the top three.

Stean seems to be a lucky charm in 2019, navigating for the round one winning car before joining the victorious Brinkman in the Accent Benchtops Working Dog Rally giving him two outright wins in 2019.

Despite not being registered for QRC points, 2017 ARC champion Nathan Quinn is also entered into the event, competing alongside Ray Winwood-Smith in a 1974 Mazda Rx2.

The Inspirations Paint Capalaba Hinterland Rally takes place in the Imbil State Forest on 14 September.

Darling 200 Rally

The CAMS Zestino Tyres Western Australian Rally Championship still has two rounds remaining for the year, but the title is all sewn up.

Skoda Fabia R5 Pilots John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver have already won the title after claiming four wins from four rounds in what has been a domination of the competition.

The Darling 200 will see crews battle on six stages, amassing a total of 115 competitive kilometres, but O’Dowd will not be one of those competitors, meaning round honours are up for grabs.

Best positioned for that placing are Craig Rando and Ben Searcy – both drivers amassing 187 points in 2019 and equal in second place, despite the latter competing in one less event.

This weekend’s battle will be more about the outright podium than anything else and Searcy believes his previous experience can help with the victory.

“Last time I did this rally I was co-driver and we won it. It’s a blind rally which will be a challenge and it’s been 15 years since I’ve driven in a blind rally,” Searcy said.

Outside the battle for second, some big names are set to compete in the Jarrahdale based rally with five-time WA State Champion John Macara competing in his first rally for 2019 with experienced co-driver Ross Burton by his side.

Another notable inclusion for the event is Rookie of the Year title contender Kelly Thomas and the 17-year-old will be full of confidence after being selected to represent Australia against 12 other countries in the Taipei Gymkhana Prix

The Darling 200 is also taking place this Saturday around the forests of Jarrahdale.