Bourne Closes Championship Gap Subaru's Possum Bourne has reduced the gap in the Driver's Championship after claiming victory at the 2002 Rally Queensland, leading from start to finish during Heat 2 and never troubled for victory after Ordynski...
Bourne Closes Championship Gap
Subaru's Possum Bourne has reduced the gap in the Driver's Championship after claiming victory at the 2002 Rally Queensland, leading from start to finish during Heat 2 and never troubled for victory after Ordynski rolled on the first stage.
"When you have to work your backside off all weekend, they are the events that you enjoy the most and remember forever and we did exactly that this weekend!" exclaimed Bourne at the finish.
Special Stages 11 -- 14
Ominous dark clouds at the beginning of the day had drivers worrying about potential conditions over the day's 8 special stages and although the wet weather held off it proved an action packed morning in the forests surrounding Imbil.
After fighting over mere seconds with Possum Bourne during Heat 1, Mitsubishi's Ed Ordynski was involved in a high-impact rollover on the first stage, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII arriving with the rear left roofline crushed down onto the rollcage and severe rear end bodywork damage.
"It was a right hand corner, the rear just stepped out unexpectedly and the rear wheel clipped the bank. We spun around and the front intercooler dug into the opposite bank and rolled straight over. It all happened very quickly and it's what I would describe as a savage roll," explained Ordynski at service.
Of note both Bourne and teammate Cody Crocker confessing to having near misses on the same corner that caught out Ordynski, both drivers admitting that the corner is deceptive and extremely quick.
The expertise and professionalism of the Mitsubishi Ralliart team was clear, a large crowd of amazed onlookers surrounding the teams truck and tents as over 8 mechanics swarmed over and within Ordynski's car with sledge hammers and race tape.
"Mechanically it feels sound, the intercooler is holed and it badly needs a wheel alignment but other than that it drives sound," added Ordynski.
To make matters worse Mitsubishi Australia Marketing Manager Kevin Taylor was viewing the action from overhead in a helicopter when the roll took place.
Adding to the overall drama, Scott Pedder rolled further into the stage and into retirement after brake loss. Pedder's roll occurred further into the short 5.75km Branch stage, a loss of brakes at the start of the stage indicated as the major factor. "It was a tight series of corners, I went for the brakes to turn it in and there was nothing. I tried to turn it in but the leading wheels dug into the road and it went over," Pedder explained.
"It took most of the impact on the bonnet and screen, the car drives fine but I was concerned that the windscreen would come into the cabin on one of the faster sections so we decided to pull the pin and have an early day," said Pedder.
Despite the dramas unfolding Bourne had picked up where he left off during Heat 1, charging into an immediate 17-second lead over Crocker after the opening four special stages.
"Still pushing as hard as during Heat 1 despite Ed's problem. I wanted to build at gap at the start of the day, which we've done, which now gives us the option to take it 'slightly' easier," stressed Bourne.
For Crocker the objective to score a strong weekend worth of results continued as planned, the Subaru driver admitting that chasing Bourne wasn't an option. "We need to take absolutely no risks, when you don't have any pressure on you why push hard," stated Crocker.
Spencer Lowndes held down third outright but was under pressure from local flyer John Goasdoue for the position, the pair split by just 2 seconds after the opening four stages. "Cody has upped his pace this morning," commented Lowndes. "But for us Manufacturer's points are the main aim with Ed dropping well down the order!"
Dean Herridge and Privateer Chris Atkinson rounded out the top six drivers, Herridge concerned that his Impreza felt down on power during the morning's longest stage, the 32.92km New Traverse.
"We did drop a bit of time in the long one, it just felt like it had run out of water spray," commented Herridge referring to the system that automatically sprays water onto the Impreza's intercooler under the bonnet, effectively cooling the air entering the turbo charger.
Along with Scott Pedder, fellow Victorian Simon Evans had been the only other major retirement of the morning. Evans Impreza dropped into rear-wheel drive after breaking a driveshaft before coming to a complete halt after the third stage of the day, Forest Drive Short with a gearbox unable to maintain the strain.
John Long continued his run of bad luck, a continuation of the misfire that plagued the Mitsubishi Lancer during Heat 1 reoccurring during the morning stages while John Mitchell languished down the order after reported head gasket problems.
Special Stages 15 -- 18
Special Stage 17, the 2.23km blast over Forest Drive Short was cancelled as organisers attempted to reduce the overall running time of the Heat, the morning's disruptions meaning the running order was out by nearly 30 minutes at the mid-morning break.
Bourne's final margin over 50 seconds to teammate Cody Crocker, but the overall margin falsely reflects the red-hot pace of the weekend. Bourne's dual Heat wins ensured he took the top podium position for the weekend, while Crocker's fourth during Heat 1 and second during Heat 2 ensured he would claim second outright for the weekend.
"I feel totally exhausted, one of the toughest weekends I can remember," commented Bourne at the final service. "The roads here are some of the most demanding in the country, I can only think of one stage at Rally Australia that even compares to how tough New Traverse is on a driver."
Spencer Lowndes managed to fend off John Goasdoue for third outright in the Heat behind Crocker, Goasdoue dropping time over the final stage when the exhaust on his Lancer dropped off to allow Lowndes to stretch the gap to 10 seconds. Lowndes excellent form over the weekend ensured that the young Victorian scored his first podium on an ARC Round with third outright.
"It's been a great run," commented an ecstatic Chris Randell, Lowndes' co-driver. "We worked through a few small problems yesterday and had a nice clean run today, a great weekend!!"
Dean Herridge stretched his Impreza over the final stages, reducing his time over the torturous New Traverse by an astounding 30 seconds, the young Western Australian feeling increasingly comfortable in his Production vehicle.
"At the end of those stages Glenn (Macneall) and I knew that our times were quicker, were starting to get a feel for the car and that means we can have a real go at the stages," stated Herridge.
Herridge's increase in pace ensured that local Privateer Chris Atkinson held onto sixth outright, a strong performance for the weekend by the young gun who bounced back superbly from a dramatic exit to last month's Rally of Canberra.
"The toughest weekend of my rallying career! Very hard roads, lots of dust but I'm feeling more comfortable in the car and that means we can push harder. We did push a lot harder today that yesterday," related Atkinson.
Behind Atkinson the battle of the Privateers with a gallant Stuart Warren unable to overcome his major opposition in the form of Mark Pedder, the older Group A Lancer of Pedder in seventh with Warren in eighth.
Ordynski managed to claw two positions back after losing substantial time following his rollover, moving from eleventh to ninth, a sore way to finish the weekend after pushing Bourne to the limit during Heat 1.
New South Welshman Michael Boaden had a consistent weekend but unable to match his ninth outright during Heat 1, dropping back into tenth at the end of Heat 2.
In the tight battle for the Aussie Car title, Ian Menzies proved he hasn't lost any of his speed in his first event back in the Australian Championship since 2001, again edging out thundering Dave Thompson's Holden Commodore V8.
Formula 2 during Heat 2 went to local ace Mark Neary in his immaculate Suzuki Baleno ahead of leading Proton runner Tod Reed in his 1600 Proton Satria. The leading F2 runners fell by the wayside over the day's stages, Heat 1 victor Lee Peterson retiring along with Brett Comber and John McCredie while Warwick Rooklyn dropped time with technical problems in his Daihatsu Charade GTi.
The Proton Rally Trophy once again went to the wire with new comer Ian Thorp claiming victory over David King by just 4 seconds at the end of the tough day's rallying while Penny Swan increased her Heat 1 pace to beat home Peter Lockhart.
In the all important race for the Driver's Championship Ed Ordynski was only able to add 18 points to his tally, now up to 88 while Possum Bourne's impressive weekend performances now has him nipping at Ordynski's heels with 76 points. Cody Crocker moves into third on 60 points ahead of Mitsubishi number two, Spencer Lowndes on 44.
The Manufacturer's Title is still tilted in Mitsubishi's favour, the weekend's results moving them up to 254 points with Subaru closing the gap to 178 points and Proton a strong third on 128 points.
Next: Cooper's Rally of South Australia
In just over 4 weeks the Australian Rally Championship returns to the garden State of South Australia for the Cooper's Pale Ale Rally of South Australia. A new addition in 2001, the Rally of SA team staged a remarkable event, the forest stages proving wildly popular with both drivers and spectators.
With July weather always likely to play a part in the event, the red-hot action of the opening Rounds of the Championship are almost certain to spill over onto South Australia's superb rally roads.
Improved stages from last year and a couple of new ones for 2002 as well as improved spectator and corporate facilities, this year's event is certain to be spectacular. "We've done a lot of hard work on the event since last year," commented Clerk of Course Jeremy Browne. "I think spectators will love the new forestry points and the Wayville Showgrounds are back, big and better. While drivers are going to love some of the new stages we have chosen for this year!"