Darren Windus has edged closer to the Motorsport Australia Till Hino Victorian Rally Championship title after winning the weekend’s Western Victorian Crane Trucks Valley Stages.
Driving alongside regular co-driver Joe Brick, Windus showed no signs of cobwebs or being out of touch with his Subaru WRX , picking up a highly convincing victory in the two-heat state championship round.
With a huge field of 55 crews contesting the 10-stage rally, Windus and Brick were in a league of their own during the first heat, claiming a clean sweep of stage wins.
The 50-year-old ended up taking out a commanding one minute and 43 second victory over Luke Sytema and Tracey Dewhurst in heat one, while Brendan Reeves and Kate Catford were a further 30 seconds off the pace in third.
Windus continued his form into the second heat and won his sixth consecutive stage before a malfunctioning fuel pump began to cause issues for the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship (ARC) competitor.
Although they were forced to take it easy over the heat’s remaining four stages, Windus still picked up a heat two podium and an overall victory of just under two minutes.
Winning the heat were ARC juniors Adrian Stratford and Kain Manning – the duo bouncing back with three stage wins after failing to post times on two stages in heat one, while Reeves and Catford finished in second ahead Windus and Brick.
As for the overall time, Reeves and Catford comfortably ended up second ahead of Justin Walker and Glen Raymond, who were almost three minutes behind the runner-up placed Datsun.
For Windus though, it was a fantastic way to resume the season after such a long break.
“We hadn’t done anything in a while so it was awesome to be back and to win in the way that we did,” Windus said.
“We essentially just picked up where we left off in the championship. The car was good and we just had such good momentum so it felt like we didn’t miss a beat.
“The first heat went awesome, but we obviously had some fuel pump issues in the second. Basically we just weren’t getting enough fuel pressure so we had to nurse the car home.
“For us, it was a championship game and we didn’t want to risk blowing the engine. We thought we were running at half pace but we only lost about 60 seconds so it was good.
“It’s a sensational event and really well organised. So we’re looking forward to the next round and all we need to do is finish fifth in the first heat and we should win.”
The next round in the 2021 Motorsport Australia Till Hino Victorian Rally Championship is the Gippsland Rally on 4 December.
Photo: Bruce Keys