Keough and Admiraal share wins in the Heartland
Mal Keough and Pip Bennett’s Audi S1 Quattro and Zayne Admiraal and Matthew Heywood’s Subaru WRX dominated their respective Classic and S.A. Rally Championship categories of the AGL Rally SA – Rally of the Heartland on June 2-3.
Held in S.A.’s mid-north, it was the opening round of the MRF Tyres S.A. Rally Championship.
The “blind” rally, with no pacenoting, attracted 48 entries, with 21 in Classic plus 5 of those also running in SARC, making it up to 32, the best field in the state championship for a few years.
Also there was one, Simon Wenzel and Brett Mason-Fife’s Bluebird, in Clubman.
Service park and accommodation centred around the Paxton Square heritage area of the old copper mining town of Burra.
Saturday’s first stage was the 27 km Mt. Bryan, followed by two spectacular stages along the ridge tops through wind farms – the 20 km AGL Wind Farm and 10 km AGL Turbine Row.
Mt Bryan and Turbine Row were then repeated, followed by the tight 2.25 km Johnny Green through the Bon Accord Mine heritage site in Burra.
These six stages comprised Leg 1 of the SARC whilst the Classics also did the 69 km Mt Dare, a shortened version of last year’s “Long Stage”, followed by North to South at night.
First car on the road, Nic Box and Todd Payne’s Nissan Silvia had retired on the opening stage when it lost an oil line, damaging the engine.
Darryn Snooks and Michael Foreshew, in last year’s winning Datsun Stanza, broke a link on the diff housing but continued on for a few stages before repairs could be carried out, then setting second fastest time to Keough AGL Turbine Row 2.
Sitting in fourth spot, Brett Middleton and Andrew Benfield’s Honda Civic was also out when the alternator failed on the following stage.
Meanwhile, Stuart Bowes and Mark Nelson’s Mercedes Benz 450 SLC had been running consistently second to the Audi, which was fastest on each stage, finished the day over five minutes in arrears, with the Mitsubishi Evo of Scott Schubert and David Gough a similar distance back, just ahead of Barry Lowe and Helen Pearl-Lowe’s powerful Commodore.
In SARC, Admiraal led the first stage, with Peter Schey (in his first rally in a 4WD car) and Kate Catford’s Subaru WRX STi fastest in AGL Wind Farm 1, Admiraal then receiving a 90 second penalty for being late out of service after repairing a shocker, dropping him to seventh.
His fightback had him back into the lead three stages later, fastest in all of the day’s remaining stages, putting him 11 up on Schey, in turn 41 ahead of Matt Selley and Hamish McKendrick’s Escort with Bowes, also running in SARC, next.
The Subaru WRX of reigning SA Champion Aaron Bowering had been out on the first stage with a holed radiator, with Craig Haysman’s Triumph TR7 V8 out after SS3 with engine problems whilst second-placed David McDonough’s Mitsubishi Evo retired on SS4 with a broken front diff.
Shane Alker and Karien Heimsohn’s seventh-placed WRX STi lost 12 minutes in a watersplash the second time through Mt. Bryan, dropping them way down the field.
Box and Snooks were back for Sunday’s stages, the former fastest Classic on Burra Gorge and AGL Wind Farm 2, with Keough best on South to North, Johnny Green 2 and the two runs of Mallett, a reversal of the previous day’s Mt Dare, run back-to-back.
Unfortunately, the tailshaft in Snooks’ Datsun’s had apparently also been damaged the day before, the vibration causing the car to progressively jump out of third and fourth gears on Sunday, causing their retirement.
Middleton was also out again, tearing out a control arm on South to North.
Lying in second, 14 minutes behind Keough, Bowes had the Merc’s clutch fail on the final Mallett 2, being towed out, which saw him excluded from the results.
This left Schubert in second, almost 18 minutes down, ahead of Rob Hunt and Jeremy Browne (Mitsubishi Evo), with Ian Reddiex and Mike Mitchell’s Edgar Herrmann tribute Datsun 1600 SSS almost two minutes further back.
In SARC, Jamie Pohlner and Ken Moore’s WRX was fastest on Burra Gorge, whilst Selley had the Escort’s clutch fail on the final corner of the stage. They managed to carry out temporary repairs which saw them limp through the rest of the event.
On the following South to North, the sixth-placed Honda Civic of Marc Butler and Peter Sims rolled down a bank, the pair very lucky as a fence post pierced the fuel tank.
Admiraal was fastest on the next two before Peter and Alyson Flood (WRX) were best on Johnny Green 1, with Admiraal suffering a puncture due to a cracked rim.
During the following service a brake rotor was also found to be badly cracked, so one was borrowed from a fellow competitor’s road WRX, which got them back to be fastest on the following sole SARC run of Mallett.
In the final results, Admiraal finished 1:14 up on Schey, with Bowes 1:18 in arrears, from Dale Cagney and Mark Dicer’s Mitsubishi Evo III 27 secs back.
This was Admiraal and Heywood’s first win in the SARC, their previous best being a heat win in Rally SA two years ago.
Round 2 of the MRF Tyres S.A. Rally championship is the Auto 1 Port Augusta Rally of the Ranges, based in Quorn on June 30.