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Well the Queens birthday long weekend saw 9 Victorian Excels head to Bega for round 3 of the Grant Walker Parts Rally Series. A great turnout of Excels helped the event celebrate 40th years.

After an initial slow start to the 2013 series it finally got underway with the Bluerock Stages on the 20th of April, 2 weeks later crews returned for round 2 at the East Gippsland Stages.  In the initial rounds 2012 series combatants Thomo and Viv returned to the muddy stage one of Bluerock only for Thomo to get stuck on Stage one and miss the rest of the rally, effectively putting him and Simon right behind the eight ball from the start of the 2013 battle.  The surprise packet from the first two rounds was Ged Blum.  Initial thoughts were that Ged was running a non-series car, (and most of the Excel crews hoped this was the case) as Ged set a series of amazing times in his new car that had been converted back to series spec for the 2013 series.  20 year old Richard North with 16 year old navigator Ross Murdoch fronted up for their first rally and acquitted themselves well, along with  Ross’s older brother Andrew Murdoch and Simon Pilepich also turned up for his first outing in the Grant Walker Parts Series and was on for a great result before an off on a muddy stage.

Off to East Gippsland and Ged continued his Bluerock form even coming second outright on one stage.  East Gippsland also saw Leigh Garrioch return to the right side of the car with his almost finished Excel with his partner and first time navigator Sally trying her hand at keeping Leigh on track.

Heading to Bega 9 Excel crews were keen to test their mettle on the fast wide roads around Bega.  With good form behind him Ged was keen to continue this in Bega, even though this was his first attempt at the event.  Leigh had done a bit more work to the car and Sally had at least one event under her belt.  Viv had to draft in Steph Richards to fill Doug’s roll in the silly seat, Richard and Ross returned after an engine issue at East Gippsland and after getting bogged leaving their accommodation to get to the assembly area on the warf.

 

The first couple of stages were rough with some of the crews further down the road experiencing a number of besser block sized rocks to dodge.  Stage 1 saw Ged set the pace over Leigh by 6 seconds who was struggling with his new rear suspension bottoming out in the rough bits.  Andrew Murdoch and Simon Pilepich finished in 3rd, 3 seconds further back.  Viv and Steph came home in 4th 5 seconds behind Andrew and Simon after having a 3rd gear spin on a tight piece of road which lost them a lot of time.  The competition was tight with the first 6 Excels covered by 21 seconds.  At the rear of the field John Ernst and Bronni Metha were having a battle with Chris and Andrew. Richard and Ross had a forgettable start with the fuel line inside the tank parting company on the way to the stage start.  It appears a number of crews had terra trip issues after the odometer check was incorrectly laid out, this caused newbies Richard and Ross to get well and truly lost on their way to stage 2, almost removing them from the rally.

Stage 2 saw Viv strike back to take the stage win by 9 seconds, reducing Ged’s lead to 6 sec.  Leigh came home 3rd 4 seconds behind Ged and 4 seconds ahead of Andrew .  15 seconds further back saw the Andersons, Rob and Nick and Richard and Ross in a tight group getting used to their first visits to Bega.

Stage 3 threw up a bit of an anomaly with results showing John and Bronni coming home first, (which they may have done but I am assuming a timing glitch?) Viv took another 5 seconds out of Geds lead with Leigh a further 5 seconds back. Stage 3 saw Rob and Nick step up and grab 4th from Andrew and Simon only 1 second behind Leigh.

Stage 4 was close to 25 kilometres of fast and flowing roads which saw Viv wrestle the lead from Ged by 9 seconds at an average speed of 97 Kmh.  Leigh grabbed 3rd from Rob, continuing his form from the previous stage ahead of Andrew Murdoch and Simon Pilepich in 5th. Richard North was out of his comfort zone and in unfamiliar territory with his first taste of really fast roads, a big step up form autocrosses but really loved the stage.

Stage 5 saw another 25 kilometre stage that has been dubbed one of the best stages in Australia. Viv and Leigh must have enjoyed it equally as much with both setting equal times of 17 minutes 43 seconds, Andrew Murdoch and Simon stepped up to take 3rd by 1 second from Ged .

At the end of Heat 1 the provisional results looked like this;

31

Dilkes-Frayne Richards

1:04:05

36

Blum Gill

1:04:24

35

Garrioch Schulz

1:04:36

43

Murdoch Pilepich

1:05:12

44

Mckerlie Seymour

1:05:38

32

Anderson Anderson

1:06:04

45

Ernst Metha

1:08:36

46

Grdovic Humphreys

1:11:00

42

North Murdoch

1:23:52

 

Heat 2 story of the Grant Walker Parts Rally Series will follow shortly.

The Grant Walker Parts Rally Series is also supported by 99R Brake Pads and Race Recall (www.racerecall.com.au) suppliers of on board video and data.

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