How many years is it since the first 3 positions in a State round were taken out by rear wheel drive cars, and 40 year old classics at that?
Well, that is what happened at last weekend’s Inspirations Paint Capalaba Hinterland Rally, the final round of the Queensland Rally Championship at Imbil, which doubled as round 6 of the East Coast Classic Rally Series.
Some observers were surprised to find 4 rear wheel drive cars seeded in the top 10 of the 42 car field. Heading the list were Glenn Brinkman/Harvey Smith in their Evo 9 ahead of Ian Menzies/Bob McGowan (Evo 9) making a return to competition, with the Team Datsun Australia entries of Ryan Smart/Hugh Reardon-Smith (Stanza) and Jack Monkhouse/Dale Moscatt (180B SSS) next up. Current QRC championship leaders Brayden and Blake Wilson (Evo 9) were seeded at 5 ahead of Nathan Quinn/Ray Winwood-Smith in David Ovenden’s loaned Mazda RX2.
The rally had been under threat from bushfire risk, but the organising club BSCC’s relationship with HQ Plantations Pty Ltd, and clerk of course Paul Woodward’s fire management plans allowed the rally to run.
Section 1 saw crews tackle 4 stages over 45kms with some known roads through Woodlands, Kandanga, Caseys and Borumba proving to be very challenging for the whole field with fast shire roads, tricky tracks and some rough sections.
There were no accidents but by the break mechanical issues had reduced the field by 12 cars. This included the Evo 9’s of Menzies/McGovern and Wilson/Wilson as well as car 8 Melinda Bergmann/Larissa Biggar.
The first 3 stages were won by Brinkman/Smith but electrical issues in SS4 dropped them to sixth, 67 seconds behind leaders Smart/Reardon-Smith. In second place 18 seconds behind were Monkhouse/Moscat being chased by Quinn/Winwood-Smith another 14 seconds in arrears as they came to terms with their loaned car. And in 4th was Clay Badenoch/Catriona Kelly in their Toyota Celica RA 40.
Section 2 was scheduled to repeat all 4 stages, but SS7 had to be dropped due to a bushfire near the start control, not connected to the rally, and the subsequent need for rural fire brigade cover ruled out the 2 evening stages. This left everything to be fought out over the remaining 3 stages.
Smart/Reardon-Smith continued where they left off in the morning, and after 81 kms of stages and a fully committed drive they won by 46 seconds, including a fastest time on SS4. Ryan Smart drove superbly all day and was a well-deserved winner.
Second place was a thriller that came down to the final stage with Quinn/Winwood-Smith edging Monkhouse/Moscatt by just one second, which was hard to take for the Team Datsun Australia crew. These 3 crews were also the place getters in the ECCRS.
Brinkman/Smith recovered to finish 4th ahead of Badenoch/Kelly, making it 4 rear wheel drive cars in the top 5, a fantastic achievement.
The rest of the top 10 were McConkey/Hewett WRX. Aggio/Benson KE30 Corolla, Carey/Bustard Evo 9, Reddiex/Mitchell Datsun SSS and Lawson/O’Brien Commodore ute.
It was a mightily impressive performance from the top 3 classic cars and their star drivers, with Queensland honors upheld by Smart/Reardon-Smith. Spectators and officials alike had some spectacular viewing of these fabulous sounding cars driven on the limit by 3 very talented drivers.
The QRC round was won by Smart/Reardon-Smith ahead of Brinkman/Smith and Badenoch/Kelly, whilst in the QRC 2WD Aggio/Benson finished 3rd.
The Clubman section went to Lawson/O’Brien ahead of Crisp/Jones WRX and Corkeron/Neagle BMW. The Novice section was won by Connelly/Preist in their Datsun 1600 ahead of Van Der Wilk/O’Connor WRX and Desbrow/Grant Ford Fairlaine. In all 30 cars finished this challenging event which was a feat in itself.
The organisers and officials need to be congratulated for putting on a challenging event in difficult circumstances, and the spectacular classic drivers who finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th made it an event to remember.
Article Provided by: Hugh Reardon-Smith
All images by: CH Images