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Snowy River Sprint 2024 Wrap Up

The 2024 Australian Tarmac Rally Snowy River Sprint descended on the seaside town of Lakes Entrance last weekend, as 51 teams supported by 17 tour cars took on the 240km, 18-stage course from Buchan to Orbost.

Modern Super Rally: Picking up where they left off after round one, Jason and Fiona Wright in their Nissan R35 were fast out of the blocks, winning every stage in their class and taking 11 outright stages to leap to an unsurmountable lead.

Jeremy Dennison and Casey Rumble (BMW M14i) were fast in the early stages, but the ultra-fast Nathan Reeves and Bec Sheldrick (Subaru WRX STi) would hunt them down after an early altercation with a guard rail damaged the rear of the Subaru.

Greg Bass and Adam Kudra were looking to put their mechanical dramas behind them in their Toyota GR Yaris but struggled early on to match the pace. Reeves would take second in the mid-stages before a clutch failure put an end to his charge and saw him withdraw, elevating Dennison to second.

Ironically Bass also withdrew on SS7 also suffering a clutch failure. Wright was unchallenged by Dennison, who was racking up respectable times before suffering transmission issues on the last stage, limping the BMW home some 7:30 behind Wright.

Modern 2WD: In a carbon copy of Lake Mountain, Paul Dowie and John Allen had their Porsche GT3RS dialled in and were fast from the outset, taking every stage win in class and finishing day one a respectable 1:35 in front of the hard-charging Xavier Franklin and Jaidyn Gluskie in their Porsche GT4.

Debuting a new car for them, Mark Griffith and Neill Wooley were learning the nuances of their Mercedes Benz AMG GTR and were holding down third, however the latter stages of day one would see them succumb to the challenge from Neil and Sue Cuthbert in their Lotus Exige, with Cuthbert ending day one 14 seconds ahead of Griffith.

However, Griffith was not ready to concede, and pushed the Lotus of Cuthbert to the very end, with a mere 17 seconds separating the pair.

Dowie was unchallenged for the category win, taking it out by over three minutes from Franklin, but the drive of the event had to go to Franklin, who despite not taking a stage win, was consistently top three outright.

Modern AWD: Matt Close and Cameron Reeves had a point to prove in their Audi TTRS Sport, after a mechanical failure in the opening stage of the last event.

Close would take an early lead, smashing out overall stage wins in the first two stages before a fuel pump failure parked them up for the event. This left the door open for Crichton Lewis and Anthony Carr, as well as Scott Coppleman and Matt Van Rooye, both in Subaru WRX STI’s to battle it out for the class honours.

Lewis would slowly begin to extend the lead over Coppleman, before hitting his marks on the longer runs on day two to take out the class by over 3 minutes. Josh Hilton and Rodney Vanderpoel would have a lonely race for third in their Nissan GTR, finishing a further 6 minutes behind Coppleman.

Early Modern 2WD: Husband and wife team of Paul and Claire Buccini decided to break up the winning format as Claire stepped out of their BMW 1M and sat the experienced navigator Bernie Webb in her place.

Despite taking some time to come to grips with the different style of note calling, Buccini would dominate Early Modern 2WD taking out the class by over six minutes.

Behind him, Mark Balcombe and Ian Wheeler (Mazda RX7) would battle it out with David Blunden and Rob Sheppard in their Nissan Skyline, with the pair trading blows throughout the opening stages.

The Maserati Gransport of Steve and Cate Winning would find their stride on SS9, taking over third and walking away from Blunden by over a minute, but couldn’t close the gap to Balcombe who secured second by over 1:30.

Early Modern AWD: The colourful pairing of Justin Waterhouse and Adrian Bryant would storm away in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, pulling a gap of over 90 seconds on the opening day before detonating a motor and bowing out of the event in stage 12.

This opened the door for Michael Mansey and Julie Winton-Monet, to battle it out with former champions Alan and Kerry Hines, both contesting Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X for the class. Both would take stage wins throughout day two, but Mansey held on to finish 1:22 ahead of Hines, with Roy Davis and Jenny Cole, also sporting a Mitsubishi Evo X to hold on for third, some four minutes in arrears.

Making their debut in Early Modern AWD was the stalwarts John and Janet Ireland, who had swapped out their Viper for yet another Evo in the class, and the pair would take some time to get used to the car, before taking the final stage win to finish fourth a mere minute behind Davis.

Classic Super Rally: The return of the ever-consistent Jon and Gina Siddins in their immaculate Datsun 240Z meant a shakeup for the Classic Super Rally, as the throttle-stomping Mick Downey and Jarrod Akker in their Holden Commodore looked to continue their winning form from the last round.

Siddins would be blistering out of the blocks, taking the lead by over a minute, while Downey stomped too hard and damaged the accelerator cable in the opening stages. Meng Chung and Nick Vardos (BMW M3) and Adrian and Tina Cauchi (Ford Escort Mk1) would battle it out for the minors.

Downey and Siddins traded stage wins after lunch on the opening day, before Siddins went off road early on the second day, parking the Datsun and leaving Downey to storm away.

A mechanical issue saw the BMW of Chung not make the start on Sunday, leaving the stunning Escort to chase Downey. However, it was a one-horse race, with Downey crossing the line a whopping 21 minutes ahead of Cauchi to take out the class.

Classic: Picking up where they left off last round, the dynamic father and son team of Michael and Lachlan Nordsvan jumped to an early lead, ending day one nearly 2 minutes ahead of the Datsun 240Z of Cam Lepp and Josh Herbert, with Peter Gluskie and Sam Winter a further 2 minutes back in their BMW 325e.

Nordsvan would battle illness and tyre degradation throughout the final day but managed to hold on, taking the class by over 5 minutes from Lepp, with Gluskie a further 2 minutes behind. Nik and Zoe Prieston would make their ATR debut in their Porsche 944, and the pair would battle it out with the ever-consistent Mazda RX7 of Bruce Power and Russell Hannah.

Both would take time from the other throughout the stages, but Power held on to take fourth by over three minutes at the end.

Rally Challenge: Rob Oshlack and Neysa Ellison (Porsche 911 GT3) continued where they left off from round one, taking out all but two stages to finish nearly three and a half minutes in front of Stephen and Jack Gould in their BMW 323i.

Gould would fight back in the early stages, taking multiple wins, but had no answer for the consistent Oshlack. Carrie and Sean Priestly in their Audi TT would put pressure on Gould early on, but a mechanical issue at the start of SS8 saw them drop to over 30 minutes behind, a deficit they were unable to claw back throughout the subsequent stages.

Rally Sport: David and Isabella Kennedy would power their Toyota GR Yaris to an early lead ahead of Ben Williams and Clint Wright, also in a Yaris, along with Xavier Lawrence and Alexander Byrne in a VW Golf R.

Williams and Lawrence would trade blows throughout the opening stages, while the all-female pairing of Luana Garwood and Suzanne Atkins would struggle with a leaking differential in their Mitsubishi Evo 8 to hold down fourth.

Kennedy would finish day one a minute and a half clear of Williams, with Lawrence a further two minutes back. However, Kennedy stopped on SS14 with a mechanical drama, opening the door for both Williams and Lawrence to duke it out for the class win.

But the drama wasn’t over, as both Williams and Lawrence suffered mechanical failures late into the final stage, both retiring and allowing the limping Evo of Garwood to take class honours for a second event in a row.

Outright: Outright contention was dominated early by Close and Reeves before their fuel pump failure saw them parked up on SS4. This meant the ongoing battle between Wright and Dowie would pick up where it left off from the last round, with Wright taking the advantage early on.

Siddins would throw has hat in the ring, sitting in the top 5 before their off-road excursion put an end to the charge, while Franklin and Lewis would put in momentous drives to hold positions in the top 5. Cuthbert hit his stride late on day one, taking over fourth while fending off a hard-charging Griffith in the AMG who mounted a late charge. Wright would hold on to take outright by just over a minute from Dowie.

The ever-consistent run of Franklin went down to the wire, holding off a fast-finishing Cuthbert for third by a mere 22 seconds, with Griffith only 17 seconds further back.

The crews now have until early September to regroup in preparation for the gruelling Great Tarmac Rally, which will see the teams take on the 250kms incorporating Reefton Spur and the ever-popular Eildon-Jamieson run.

With only 30 entry applications left, make sure you don’t miss out on joining the biggest competition field to date.


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