The DNA Rallysport crew of Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams have won the Walky Stages Rally, claiming their third South Australian Rally Championship in the process. Competing over the fast and marbly roads in the Truro area an hour north of Adelaide, the crew overcame early crank angle sensor problems to convincingly win the nine stage long event.
The Rally Power Motorsport team of James Rodda and Claire Ryan were once again struck with their mystery misfire issues that have plagued them at previous events, but managed to hold on to second place throughout the event, also earning them second outright in the championship. It was a crushing blow for James and Claire, as after over 6 hours of problem diagnosis and tuning on the dyno at Graham West Workshop in the week prior to the event, they really thought they had finally found and fixed the problem.
Past Australian rally champion Barry Lowe, co-driven by Helen Lowe, claimed fourth outright and first in the Classic class in their thundering VB Commodore. I think I’ve said this after every event, but the rumbling V8 under the bonnet of this thing sounds incredibly mean, and when on the special stage it seems to be in a perpetual state of wheelspin and sideways action, throwing up big rooster tails of dirt and rocks. No complaints from me!
… with eight going to the Datsun 180B of Nev Whittenbury and Dave Rudham. Nev pushed the B hard all day, but the little 4 cylinder just couldn’t quite match the pace of the 6 cylinder 240Z and 8 cylinder Commodore on the fast stages.
The Walkerville All Cars Club did a great job of putting this event together in such a short space of time. The final round of the championship was originally planned to be the Kuitpo Forest Rally, run by SDCC, however a lot of the Kuitpo roads ended up being used for Rally SA when that event was refused road closures in the Adelaide Hills Council district. Hence, this event was conceived, planned and executed in around 4 months – a massive undertaking for a relatively small volunteer club.
The roads themselves were largely fast and flowing, with big sweeping bends on billiard table smooth, but very slippery gravel. Whilst a lot of the stages seemed easy at first glance, they were punctuated by technical sections that were reached at great speed, and the odd bumpy and rocky sections that needed to be treated with care.
Smee and Damo were having a great run in the Familia until they cracked the gearbox casing, forcing retirement. But luckily they managed to win the Clubman Championship round before the casing cracked, so they still went home reasonably happy.
But it was Declan and Craig who walked away with the championship, and it’s really quite an incredible feat when you think about it. Declan hadn’t competitively rallied for 2 years; Craig hadn’t co-driven for 4, and the first time that Craig even sat in the car was on the transport to their first stage at the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally. They actually won that first stage, and went on to win their first event. And despite not competing in Round 1 at Millicent because Declan hadn’t yet purchased the car, they amassed enough points to comfortably win the championship.
The thing I love about going to these rallies is that you get to explore in great detail a section of the country that you never would normally venture to. I’ve only ever driven through Truro on my way to somewhere else, but I found the area to be one of stark, often barren beauty. The gradual rolling hills melt off into the distance, paving the way for the kinds of gravel roads that are great fun to fling a car around on. Often I felt like I was travelling somewhere completely new, but I was often only a few kilometres from the main road.
However this area doesn’t see a lot of rain, and the roads were very dusty. In this photo Phil Williams is learning that from Barry Lowe, who stalled the big Commodore and then showered Phil in a rooster tail of dust as he took off! (Thanks to Beth Caughley for the shot)
The weather was absolutely perfect on the day, especially in the afternoon when the sun cast rays of warm light, creating long shadows as everybody waited around for it to set. If you had a sunroof, you had it open.
And it was a spectacular sight when the sun did finally set as we were waiting for the night stages to begin. The colours were so intense and the air so clear that for a moment I forgot all about rally cars. It was one of those moments that interrupts whatever you’re thinking about or doing, and forces you to just stop and admire the world we live in.
And it was bittersweet as the crews handed in their final time cards of the season – they were glad to have made it to the end of the year, but at a loss as to what they’ll do for fun over the summer break. Cricket? Pfft.
At the time of writing the official championship results are yet to be released. We’ll look at the results in detail and take a quick look back at the events that made up season 2012 in a future post.
The full results for the Walky Stages Rally can be seen here on our Facebook page.#Evo #Gravel Rally #rally #SARC #South Australian Rally Championship #Truro #Walky Stages Rally #WRX