O’Dowd wins first round, Trade Hire Karri Rally

John O’Dowd pic: Maximum Motorsport/Gemma Lucas

On Saturday, the season opener of the CAMS Onslow Contracting WA Rally Championship (WARC), the Trade Hire Karri Rally, was held in Nyamup, east of Manjimup.

Maximum Motorsport driver John O’Dowd and co-driver Tom Wilde, who is also reigning WA Rally State Champion, finished first at the Trade Hire Karri Rally, winning three stages and finishing second on the other four in a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

O’Dowd said that he enjoyed the rally and he was happy with a win in round one, gaining some valuable points going into the Make Smoking History Forest Rally next month.

“It was a good rally with good stages. The long 35-kilometre stage was enjoyable and it was good to get the fastest time – it was a little technical and rough in patches, it had a bit of everything,” O’Dowd said.

“The car ran faultless all day, it was prepared well by Maximum Motorsport and it’s a great car to drive – I felt good in the car this time.

“Tom did a good job – I’ve had him co-drive for me once before and we work well together.”

Last year, O’Dowd narrowly missed the title in a battle with Wilde who won the Championship in a 2WD car, making history in the process. But for the Trade Hire Karri Rally and the WA round of the Australian Rally Championship, the Make Smoking History Forest Rally in Busselton in April, the rivals are teammates, with Wilde as co-driver.

O’Dowd’s regular co-driver Ken Shiel is unable to compete due to work commitments.

Finishing 1:05 minutes behind O’Dowd in second place was Stephen Oxley and Michael Wood in their 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

Oxley said that they had a great day despite damaging the front steering arm at the start of the second stage.

“Unfortunately that damage put the alignment out for the rest of the day, but we battled on,” Oxley said.

“There was a lot of dust but the stages were good, some fast and flowing sections and a really mixed long stage.”

Oxley said that he would be competing at the Make Smoking History Forest Rally, which is also a round of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship and he hopes to contest the remaining rounds of the WARC.

Nic Box and Todd Payne finished first in the 2WD Championship and third overall in a 1993 Nissan Silvia S13, 1:43 minutes slower than the winner.

For more information and results visit www.rallywa.com

WA 2WD Championship

Nic Box and Todd Payne finished first in the 2WD Championship and third overall in a 1993 Nissan Silvia S13, 1:43 minutes slower than the winner.

The duo had to concede second place in WARC after their map reading light failed, making it impossible to read pace notes in the dark.

Box said it was one of the best rallies he has ever competed in.

“The roads were perfect with a mixture of high speed and high grip mostly, with a few rough bits that weren’t an issue; most of the stages suited me and my car and that showed in the results,” Box said.

“Our wipers stopped on the first stage but we fixed them and we had one flat tyre after hitting a rock near the end of a stage so we didn’t lose any real time.

“I couldn’t be happier – the rally is a credit to all who organised it and helped – it ran like clockwork.”

Box will be part of the service crew for Adam Kaplan at Make Smoking History Forest Rally after Box sold Kaplan his Nissan 370Z, as such, Box is unable to compete. His next event is the Rally of the Heartland in South Australia.

Second place in the 2WD Championship went to Michael Joss and Megan Logue in a 1999 Nissan Silvia S15, 3:04 minutes behind Box / Payne.

Rounding out the top three was Alex and Lisa White in a 1989 Nissan Silvia S13, 10:06 minutes slower than Box / Payne.

Alex White said that his car performed perfectly, even through the rough patches.

“At the first service we found that the cap to our power steering had popped off and the radiator fan had been pushed into the top of the shroud following a rough section in second stage, but that was the worst of it for us really,” White said.

“We struggled through the night stages with our lights as we didn’t have the spread and couldn’t see into dips or tops of crests which resulted in dropping two minutes on one stage alone. Our notes where pretty good, but it wasn’t worth making a mistake so we backed off and did our best.

“The roads were a really nice combination of technical, tight, open, and fast sections – the organisers have done a great job at finding new roads for this rally.

“I was also really pleased to see the return of the village accommodation, along with the central service park and ceremonial finish, which allows us to all catch up and hear each other’s stories – the rally community spirit is really important to the future of our sport. We are now looking forward to Forest Rally.”

Alex White said that they have struggled the last few years to compete due to work commitments, but this year their aim is to compete in the all the WA 2WD Championship rounds.

Clubman Masters and Clubman Club series

Winners of the Clubman Cup were Stephen Vass and Ashley Burton in a 1972 Datsun 1600 who finished just 0:12 ahead of Graeme and Kathy Miles in a 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer. Rounding out the top three was Kevin and Aaron Hollingsworth in their 2007 Suzuki Swift, 3:48 minutes behind the quickest pace.

For Vass, this was his first time competing as a driver having spent four years as a co-driver.

“I did drive in a rally last year but retired during the first stage, so that didn’t count. I’ve tried all sorts of racing and rally driving is my favourite – as they say, a bad day rallying is still better than a good day at work,” said the Proprietor of Maddington Auto Repairs and sponsor of the car.

“We had no problems, the car ran well and it’ll be ready and firing for Forest Rally.”

In the Clubman Masters, a Ford finished first over a Datsun. Carl and Tracey Rattenbury were quickest in their 1974 Ford Escort, 11:33 minutes ahead of Chris and Kelsey Gerdei in their 1974 Datsun 180B.

The picturesque Trade Hire Karri Rally took place on State Forest roads for the first time in 30 years with 118 kilometres of competitive stages, 194 kilometres in total. The longest stage of the rally was also the longest stage in the WARC at 35 kilometres.

The next round is the Make Smoking History Forest Rally held from 27th to 29th April 2018 in Busselton and Nannup; it is also a round of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship.

For more information and results visit www.rallywa.com


Overall WARC
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 5 O’DOWD
Impreza WRX STI
Impreza WRX STI
3 6 BOX
Silvia S13
Overall 2WD
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 6 BOX
Silvia S13
2 8 JOSS
Silvia S15
3 10 WHITE
Silvia S13
Overall Clubman Cup
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
1 29 VASS
2 28 MILES
Overall Clubman Masters
Pos No Crew Vehicle Total
Gap 1st 
Escort Mk1

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