Schey Wins Dramatic Rally of the Ranges
In winning the inaugural Auto One Port Augusta Rally of the Ranges, Victorian Peter Schey and S.A.’s Kate Catford now also lead the MRF Tyres South Australian Rally Championship.
The single-day rally was based in Quorn on June 29, featuring 8 stages with a variety of surfaces covering a large area of the southern Flinders Ranges.
In a very close finish, Schey’s ex Cody Crocker Asia Pacific Rally Championship WRX STi finished 8 seconds ahead of the WRX of Aaron Bowering and Heath Weedon, with Stuart Bowes and Mark Nelson’s classic Mercedes Benz 450 SLC 6 seconds back, in turn only 3 seconds up on Jamie Pohlner and Ken Moore’s Subaru WRX.
The opening stage was a 9 km twisting tarmac run south through the spectacular Pichi Richi Pass, the main road linking Quorn to Port Augusta.
This was a major coup being given permission to close this much-used tourist road. The organisers and the locals responsible should be congratulated.
Schey and round 1 winners Zayne Admiraal and Matthew Heywood (WRX) were equal fastest on the stage, only 3 seconds ahead of Bowes.
This was followed by The Gunyah, 23 km of fast, reasonably smooth gravel, where Bowes went into the lead, 18 seconds up on Bowering, with Admiraal 6 seconds back.
Mark Povey/Brendan Dearman’s Stanza was out on the stage with a collapsed front spring seat.
A long transport north took competitors to Bobby Creek, a fast, flowing 15 km road where Admiraal pulled 13 seconds out on Bowes, with Matt Selley/Mike Dale (Escort Mark 2 Warrior) and Bowering close behind.
Richard Bennett/Matt James-Wallace’s spectacular 1967 Mustang retired with a broken rear leaf spring.
Another fast stage, the 7 km Yappala, was next, Bowes’ Mercedes 9 seconds faster than both Admiraal and Paul Heenan/Andrew Kriesl’s Galant VR4.
A short super special stage was run beside the racecourse in the nearby town of Hawker, Admiraal 3 seconds up on Bowering, Pohlner 1 second down, with Schey and Dale Cagney/Mark Dycer (Mitsubishi EVO) a further second back.
Heysen, the event’s tightest, roughest stage,18 km through narrow private tracks, with some cautions for creek beds and off-camber corners. Most of the field overshot a tight right-hander which dropped into a creek bed, where Selley’s handbrake turn spun and stalled the Escort across the track, the starter motor refusing to work. Mike Dale, subbing for Hamish McKendrick, who was slumming it on the French and Italian Rivieras, managed to get the car pushed backward with the help of a couple of photographers, allowing the Escort to coast down the slope and restart. They lost some 3 minutes in the process.
Admiraal, one of those to run wide, was 9 seconds up on Pohlner, with Bowering 1 second further back.
Cousins Michael Nixon and Jim McGough’s Escort Mk 2 was the event’s third and final retirement, stopping near the end of the stage with engine problems.
Schey was best on the fast Whitehead (7.8 km) by 1 second from Bowes, in turn 2 up from Heenan. Rob Hunt/Darkie Barr Smith (EVO VI) and Admiraal were another second back.
Prior to the final Stokes Run, at 26 km the event’s longest stage, Admiraal held a narrow lead over Bowes, Bowering and Pohlner, but the white WRX was about to hit trouble.
A flat tyre and a problem with the jack 5 km from the end cost them 5 minutes, dropping them to 11th in the final standings.
Also suffering a puncture on the final stage was the Escort BDG of Wayne Mason/Dave Langfield, the jack breaking in the process, forcing Langfield to run back to a road closure to borrow a replacement. The time lost saw them classified 18th and last finisher.
Schey went quickest, 7 seconds up on Pohlner, Bowering 13 seconds further back.
In the Clubman category, which ran on the final 5 stages, Jarrod Bawden/Mike Goedecke (Nissan Skyline) finished 18 seconds ahead of Brian Catt/Shane Miller (Hyundai Excel), in turn 30 seconds up on Chris Bennett/David Rowe (WRX STi).
- Peter Schey/Kate Catford (Subaru WRX STi) 55.17
- Aaron Bowering/Heath Weedon (Subaru WRX) 55.25
- Stuart Bowes/Mark Nelson (Mercedes Benz 450 SLC) 55.39
- Jamie Pohlner/Ken Moore (Subaru WRX) 55.52
- Paul Heenan/Andrew Kriesl (Galant VR4) 56.16
- Rob Hunt/Darkie Barr Smith (Mitsubishi EVO VI) 56.47
Third round of the MRF Tyres S.A. Rally Championship is the Walky 100 Rally on August 11.
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