Held in the Yarraman and Benarkin State Forests, Round 5 of the QRC wrapped up the 2016 season on Saturday, with the outright event win going to Ryan Smart and John McCarthy in their Evo 9. Ian Menzies and Rob McGowan, also in an Evo, finished 2nd with 3rd place going to Marius Swart and Peta Davies in their VW Polo. Marius and Peta have recently had a bad run with transmission issues, so this would have been a satisfying finish for them.
This was the only Blind Rally of the season, which caused some competitors a few heart-in-mouth moments, particularly on SS3, and unfortunately not everyone made it out unscathed. The tulips in the road books are suggestive after all. Repeated stages went smoother with co-drivers able to make minor adjustments to the notes.
The field for this year’s P3 Solutions Benarkin Rally was made up of 34 entrants rallying over 10 stages, including two night stages, which always mixes things up, and it was interesting to see some of the cars fitted with lighter and slimmer LED lightbars, rather than the more traditional light pods that we have grown accustomed to.
In the 2WD category, Keith Fackrell and Tony Best in the Castrol liveried Escort took the top step on the podium, followed by Clay Weston and Brendon Wrigley in the Fiesta. The red Alfa GTV6 of Peter Flynn and Dominic Corkeron finished 3rd, and with just over ten seconds separating the three teams, this showed how close the competition is for the 2WD cars.
The bright orange Torana driven by Allan Arney and Matt Roe finished a satisfying first in the Novice category, and no doubt this will encourage them to return next year.
As always, a big, big thank you to all of the volunteers, officials and spectators that came out to enjoy the blue skies and red dust.