The 2015 Queensland Rally Championship came to a spectacular conclusion on the weekend, with the twenty-one competitors and six pace-noted entrants giving it their all in an effort to claim the title. The weekend provided more challenges than any could handle, however, when the event was washed out before the fourth stage could be run. Roads turned to rivers around midday, leaving many drivers stranded between stages, and officials rushing to alter the course to ensure it met competitive distance minimums.
Starting the day off in hot and dry conditions, Ian Menzies and co-driver Robert McGowan held on to claim the win, their ’98 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6 powering them to the finish line. Coming in second place, Kim Acworth and co-driver Ian Swinbourne in their 1991 Subaru Liberty, with Todd Webster and co-driver Ryan Preston bringing home 3rd place in the 1995 Subaru WRX STI. Despite the harsh conditions, drivers gave it their all in an attempt to gain enough points to win the QRC title for 2015.
After racing a storm in the first three stages, competition was halted at the start of the fourth stage when the 00 course check car was caught up in the hail storm mid-stage. With sections of road flooding, trees down, and hail hitting Yarraman, the decision was made to call off the rally until conditions improved. Overall, only four stages were run through the day, with stage three shortened and re-run as a fourth stage to make up the remaining 5km’s required for the event to be considered competitive distance. The night stages were also cancelled.
Many drivers have commented on the slippery conditions after the storms, with some disappointed Mother Nature put a dampener on the competition. Several drivers were caught on the third stage as the rain started at Benarkin, but all made it safely back to Rally HQ. Flooding on the highway left several drivers stranded in Yarraman until the rain subsided enough to return to Benarkin. Rally Official Margot Knowles, navigating for Simon Knowles in 0 course car, said she was “really extremely grateful we weren’t on track when the storm hit.” Her photograph, below, shows the extent of the water on track just minutes after the rain started.
Photo by Margot Knowles.