The first round of the 2019/2020 Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series was won by Michael Harding in a Subaru WRX STi. The car is purpose built for tarmac rallying and it was Hardings first appearance in his tarmac spec rally car at this event, having previously competed in his gravel spec version of the Subaru. Harding had his engine tuner Benjamin Perry sitting in the co-drivers seat.
“I invited Benny to come down and jump in the car and help us with some data and have some fun as a bit of a thank you for him for all the many, many hours of hard work he’s put into the car,” said Harding.
“Actually sitting in the car and experiencing it is just mind blowing” added Perry
The event at Sydney Dragway attracted a quality field of 85 cars. Previous winner and event favourite Phil Heafey broke the driveline of his Lancer EVO on the start line of the second stage and was forced to retire. His main rival was Michael Caine, who usually competes in an RX7 and has challenged Heafey for the win at many previous rounds of the series. But Caine decided to bring a Holden Commodore Ute to the first round to try something a bit different and “have a bit of fun”.
Troy and Gary Nicolson finished on the second step of the Podium and blasted the HSV Commodore Coupe 4 around the special stage to be just 2.9 seconds behind Harding’s Subaru at the end of the night. Jake and Ian Lambie were 3rd in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 5.
It was a trying night for North Shore Sporting Car Club organisers who had to contend with 45km/h westerly winds disrupting course setup and making barrier placement extremely difficult. But in the end, the event started on time and was praised by competitors. The first round used a new starting location adding an extra 400m to the technical course.
The first round of the Summer series was also the first time the event included a coaching and mentoring programme specifically for Juniors. The GFB Junior Development Program included coaching from Rally Ace Brendan Reeves and Professional Co-Driver Dale Moscatt. The three juniors entered in the programme for the first round were Tom Donohue, Louise Taylor and Taylor Gill and were driving a Hyundai N-Performance Hot Hatch. The competition between the juniors was intense, with 15 year-old Gill beating Donohue by just eight tenths of a second.
The 2nd round of the series will be held on a Tuesday night the weekend after the WRC event in Coffs Harbour and entries are now open. The Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint is open to both experienced rally drivers through to novice and first-time competitors. The event is 100% asphalt, conducted on private roads within Sydney Dragway precinct. The event is run as a special stage rally with cars starting at 30 second intervals. To compete at the Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series, entrants need to be over 14 years old. No drivers licence or vehicle rego is needed.
REMAINING DATES FOR 2019/2020 SEASON
Round 2: Tuesday 19th November 2019
Round 3: Thursday 5th December 2019
Round 4: Thursday 13th February 2020
Round 5: Thursday 12th March 2020