It was great to see a relatively full field of quick cars despite the conditions being rather ordinary (wet and slippery).
Fast locals, the Vandenberg brothers are leading the Modern comp in the Tarmac Challenge (in an EvoIX). Jim Richards had turbo problems and struggled with his 2WD Porsche. Tony Longhurst and Simon Gillet were fighting over 2nd (both driving Subarus) while Tony Quinn was back in 4th (still learning to drive his Evo having moved away from the Porsche).
Top drive in the modern comp goes to Brendan Reeves in the Mazda3 who was mixing it with the big boys and holding down P8 (just a few seconds behind Alfords new GTR R35). Awesome!!
In the ARC, Neal Bates was driving superbly (almost like he knows the roads!) and was leading Spencer Lowndes in the Evo (after Simon Evans had some early problems).
Very impressed with Bates and Lowndes and Molly Taylor thrilled the crowd of two officials and two part-time media snappers when she burned up the road only to realise (too late) that there was a chicane to negotiate....
We missed the TV guys so look for the footage of Molly on youtube soon!!
Wombat RT - Low to the ground and 4WD Grunt - there's nothing like Wombat RT
For all the hype Molly Taylor has received, every time I've seen her at a rally, she's made a mistake. Maybe it's coincidence? Maybe she's distracted by spectators? But as much as I'd like to see an Aussie chick mixing it with the blokes, she really doesn't look the goods at this stage.
I kinda forgot about the raly this weekend. Would have liked to head down but have a lot on this weekend anyway.
If you actually compare her to Ben Cullen in the Sprinter, she needs to get moving... Ben in a much older and slower car, running on a shoestring budget with little service crew matches times with her on occasions.
Seems like Michael Guest has lost the plot too, very slow today, considering he had rallied on tarmac before. Beaten by Craig Brooks and Glen Raymond. Who is Craig Brooks you may ask?
Craig Brooks is undoubtedly the most committed driver in Tasmania at the moment. Won the state championship this year (all gravel) . He also doesn't really know how to back off as he went off on the final stage this year in the third round of the series whilst comfortably leading... He is co-driven by Daniel Willson who has somewhat emerged in the last few years as one of the top co-drivers going round. Brooksy competed last year in Rally of Melbourne and was impressive against the locals in his "new" ex. Crocker 2005 ARC winning car and this weekend was his first tarmac rally ever, and one the few rallies he has done on pacenotes. Not bad huh David Waldon was another stand out performer, debuting another WRX (in a similar colour scheme to Ken Block's camoflauge Subaru). Although he wasn't as fast as Brooksy, he still was up there in the Modern category, as was Jamie Vandenberg who took the Modern win in his Evo, his first ever tarmac win!
Neal Bates beat everything on the rally and I would be afraid to see the S2000 car in Targa next year!
I now understand why the S2000 Corollas have been so hard to beat this year. One word ... awesome. These cars are sooo fast and coming into the chicanes where we were spectating, Simon and Neal were able to brake about 25-40 metres later than the rest of the field. The two best cars driven by two of the best rally drivers, awesome.
Molly Taylor tried to replicate the S2000 Corollas braking capacity with her Mirage ... ended up locking the wheels and skidding along the wet road into the chicane.
For a local driver such as Brooksy to gain a podium finish in Heat 2, with no experience on tarmac apart from the day before, is a great effort. It shows just how good a driver he is, and how small the talent pool is in the ARC at the moment. Don't mean to be nasty to the other competitors or anything but I think you can see what I'm getting at.
The only driver to come close to the Toyota's this weekend were Evo drivers Spencer Lowndes, (crashed on last stage, 2nd Heat 1) and local Jamie Vandenberg (different class, similar stage times to Spencer.) Jamie finished equal first for "Modern Challenge" event with Subaru driver Tony Longhurst.
If this weekend was anything to go by, I will be looking forward to plenty more tarmac rally action for season 2009!