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Lake Mountain Sprint 2024 Wrap Up

The opening round of the Australian Tarmac Rally was held in the Victorian town of Marysville, covering 220km of competitive stages utilising the winding roads and steep climb between Lake Mountain and Cumberland.


72 cars in 9 separate categories lined up to take on the gruelling 16 stages in sunny, dry conditions, a far cry from the snow-affected event last year.


Super Rally:

Former series champions Jason and Fiona Wright in their Nissan R35 were keen to make amends for the mechanical failure that saw them lose the championship last year and came out the blocks with stunning speed. Making a long-awaited return to tarmac was the pairing of Nathan Reeves and Bec Sheldrick (Subaru WRX STi), and the pair would take it to the Wrights, swapping stage wins early on. Wright held a mere 1.9-second lead after 4 stages before Reeves succumbed to differential failure on SS5, elevating the open category debutants of Jeremy Dennison and Casey Rumble (BMW M140i) to second over Greg Bass and Adam Kudra (Toyota GR Yaris). Wright was unchallenged for the category but had to battle hard for outright contention, however, a stage win to Dennison on SS8 saw him move to within 49.6 seconds of Wright, with Bass a further 1:38 minute behind. Dennison had a spin on SS12, losing a chunk of time, but held on to take second for the class, some 2:10 behind Wright, with Bass claiming 3rd trailing by 3:06.

Modern AWD 2008+:

Rally stalwart Crichton Lewis and Anthony Carr (Subaru WRX STi) on ATR debut were prepared to take it to the Audi of Matt Close, but a mechanical drama saw the Audi parked up before completing a competitive stage. This opened the door for the ultra-consistent pairings of Mark Griffith / Neill Wooley (Mercedes Benz A45 AMG) and Scott Coppleman / Matt Van Rooye (Subaru WRX STi) to battle Lewis for early bragging rights. 12 seconds would cover the top three before Griffith went off-road on SS6, ending his event. After 8 stages Lewis held a 20.1-second lead over Coppleman, with the ever-present Barrie and Jan Smith (Audi TT RS) 3:06 further back. Lewis found his rhythm on Sunday, winning all stages and extending his lead to 1:32.9 over Coppleman, while Smith held off a late charge from Michael Minshall / Rhys Llewellyn (Audi TT RS) to finish third.


Modern 2WD 2008+:

Newly crowned series championship pair of Paul Dowie and John Allen (Porsche GT3 RS) would continue where they left off last year, dominating the score card and finishing the first day with an impressive 1:12.5 lead over Geoff Olholm and John Doble (Toyota Supra). David & Jackie Thirwell (BMW 1M) started strong, but soon succumb to the pressure from Xavier Franklin & Jaidyn Gluskie (Porsche GT4) and dropped to fourth. Dowie would cruise to a 3:18.3 victory, while Franklin would continue his charge, chasing down the Supra of Olholm and taking the final three stages in front, but Olholm held on to deny Franklin 2nd bye a mere 4.7 seconds.

Early Modern AWD 1986-2007:

Hard charging father and son duo Liam and Larry Howarth (Nissan Skyline GTR) had a fight on their hands from the outset, with the ultra fast Anthony Moss & Julie Hunter (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X), with Moss dominating the time cards to take a 18.4 seconds lead after day one. Tyler Page & Ryan Sheehan (Subaru S204) would battle it out with former champions Allan and Kerry Hines (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X) and Michael Mansey & Julie Winton-Monet (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS) for the minor pacings, before Mansey went off road in SS5 and retired. Howarth would push hard to close the gap to Moss, but found the scenery in SS11, elevating the consistent Page to 2nd and Hines to 3rd. Moss would take the class by a staggering 5:10.2 over Page, with Hines a close 12.1 behind.


Early Modern 2WD 1986-2007:

Husband and wife team Paul and Claire Buccini (BMW 1M) were challenged early by mark Balcombe & Ian Wheeler (Mazda RX7) before the Mazda exploded a diff spectacularly at the start line to SS4. This elevated Steve and Cate Winning (Maserati Gransport) and Roger Lomman & Annie Bainbridge (Nissan 350z) on to the podium, but they had no answer to the Buccini’s who took out the class by a whopping 9:37.6. Winning would find more pace on the latter half of Sunday to take second place by 3:32.1 over Lomman.


Classic Super Rally Pre 1985:

After a hiatus from tarmac rallying, the colourful pairing of Mick Downey and Jarrod Akker (Holden Group C Commodore) resumed their friendly rivalry with long time sparring partners Mick and Daniel Bray (Holden LH Torana). The duo would swap stage wins throughout, with Downey heading into day 2 a mere 25.1 seconds in front. Not to be outdone by Holden dominance, Meng Chung and Nick Vardos (BMW E30 M3) were holding out Mick Reynolds & Mark Morewood (Holden Commodore) for third, as the nimble BMW relished the tight twisting stages. However, the twists became too much, and Chung put the car off the road in SS10 and retired. Downey would hold off Bray to take the win by 1:02.5, with Reynolds making it an all Mick podium 18:21.8 behind.


Classic 1972-1985:

Father and son pairing Michael and Lachlan Nordsvan (Mazda RX7) hit the ground running, battling for the lead with the ever-consistent Peter Gluskie and Sam Winter (BMW E30 325e), holding a 1:41.6 lead before Gluskie suffered a mechanical failure. This left Nordsvan in a two-horse race with Bruce Power and Russell Hannah (Mazda RX7) after Robin and Peter Lowe (Datsun 240z) retired after breaking a drive shaft on start line of the first competitive stage. Nordsvan would be unchallenged for the category, finishing 11:11.2 in front of Power and an impressive 8th outright.


Rally Challenge:

Warwick and Chris Hope (Nissan Skyline R33 GTST), Rob Oshlack and Neysa Ellison (Porsche 911 GT3) and Stephen & Jack Gould (BMW 323i) would all take the early lead on the opening stages before Oshlack found his stride and powered on. Jason Killen and Andrew Thompson (Audi TTRS) would put on a late charge. Taking out several of the later stage wins, but inconsistent runs hurt them from the start. Oshlack would take the class by 3:36.9 over Hope, with Gould a further 2:50.7 behind.


Rally Sport:

Ian Watson and Marc Lyall (VW Polo) would have the event their own way from the start, with all female pairing of Luana Garwood and Kel Handley (Mitsubishi lancer EVO) struggling early on and Ben Williams / Clint Wright (Toyota Yaris GR) being a non-starter. Watson would head into the final stages with a 3:58.2 second lead before the Polo left the road on SS12. Consistency meant that Garwood and Handley would remain the only car in class and the pair took out their first class victory together.



Paul Dowie, Jason Wright, Nathan Reeves and Anthony Moss would spearhead the charge for outright contention, with all teams taking out stages early on. The withdrawal of Reeves saw Wright take control, leading Moss by 1:06.1 with Dowie a further 20.1 in arrears. Dowie made his move on SS11, taking over second a mere 1.3 clear of Moss, but consistent times in the final stages saw Dowie finish the event 40.2 seconds clear of Moss, but Wright maintained his lead to win outright by 59.0.


The crews now have a 7-week turnaround before descending on Lakes Entrance to tackle the

240km 18 stage Snowy River Sprint, May 4-5. Entry applications close on April 26.


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