Jim Richards extends lead in Rally Tasmania Australian motor racing legend Jim Richards has extended his lead over the field in the 30th running of Rally Tasmania, and will enter the final day with a healthy margin over his major ...
Jim Richards extends lead in Rally Tasmania
Australian motor racing legend Jim Richards has extended his lead over the field in the 30th running of Rally Tasmania, and will enter the final day with a healthy margin over his major rivals.
Richards and his Tasmanian co-driver, Barry Oliver, won four of the day's tarmac stages in their Porsche 911 GT2 and lead the Subaru Impreza WRX of Steve Glenney and Alan Stean by 21.5 seconds, with Brendan Reeves third in another Subaru.
Queensland husband and wife, Keith and Mary Anne Callinan, hold a one minute lead in the classic competition, ahead of Roger Paterson in his Porsche, while Scott Pedder holds a commanding lead in the Australian Rally Championship section in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
After early morning rain in Burnie, the road conditions quickly dried, suiting Richards and his Porsche down to the ground. Although he came under constant pressure from the Subarus of Glenney and Reeves, he maintained his lead.
"We had a very good day with no hiccups. The car ran faultlessly," Richards said.
"I was a bit worried about the weather when I woke up at 4.30 this morning to a thunderstorm, but apart from a fine mist for the last five kilometres of Hellyer Gorge this afternoon, the weather has been fine all day.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's stages, and hopefully maintaining our lead."
Glenney peformed better later in the day, winning the last stage and heading back to Burnie full of confidence.
"We've had a good day," Glenney commented. "When the sun came out this afternoon and the temperatures warmed up we were able to get more heat into the tyres and they gripped the road a lot better.
"We've had a few small brake issues, but nothing too serious. Hopefully we can continue to push Jim tomorrow. A win would be great, but we'd be more than happy with second place."
On their return to rallying after a major accident last August, Reeves and co-driver Rhianon Smyth are thrilled to be back amongst the leaders.
"The car was fantastic today," Reeves said. "We ran out of brakes on the Savage River stage this morning, but we were still able to win that stage and the repeat of it, run in reverse, so that was great.
"It's great to be back in the car together again, and to be comfortably in third place is awesome."
Peter Eames led the Classic competition after three of the eight stages in his Porsche 911 RS, but left the road on the run into Savage River. While his car was undamaged, it was far enough off the road to require a recovery vehicle to extricate it, and his victory chances were over.
That enabled the new leader, Keith Callinan, to ease his pace and consolidate his lead, which stands at just over a minute after two days.
Roger Paterson set several fastest stage times in his Porsche 911 and remains in contention in second place, while local driver Mitch Roberts lies third in his Mazda RX7. A further minute back is Western Australian Mark Dobson in a Triumph TR7.
Making his return to the Australian Rally Championship, Scott Pedder again surprised his rivals with his brisk speed over the stages. He and co-driver Jon Mortimer won five stages for the day to finish over half a minute in front, while many others struggled with tyre problems.
"It's been a good day. We were wearing our tyres down a little bit towards the end but we expected that, so generally everything is going very well," Pedder said.
In second place is Simon Evans in his Subaru, but tyre woes complicated his day as he fought to keep up with Pedder's pace.
"I'm driving the best I've ever driven," he said. "I'm really happy with the way we are driving and the car's handling superbly we're just at a disadvantage with the new control tyre."
Worse off, however, was his younger brother Eli Evans, who delaminated four tyres on his Honda Civic. It had been a great start to the day for the Honda driver, who took the rally lead after the first stage of the day, but it all went down hill from there.
Victorian Justin Dowel moved in to third place in his Mitsubishi Lancer, at the expense of Glen Raymond, whose Mitsubishi struck clutch problems late in the day.
Mark Pedder is fourth in a Mitsubishi, ahead of Queenslander Ryan Smart in a Toyota Corolla.
The final day of Rally Tasmania will see competitors contest another eight special stages, with a competitive distance of nearly 56 kilometres.
The rally finishes with two stages around the streets of Burnie, in front of an expected crowd of 5000 people.
-source: targa tasmania