THE second round of the Tasmanian Rally series provided another win for Marcus Walkem and Damien Grimwood in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 and, while it was a comfortable win, there was some pressure from unexpected teams.
After winning every stage in the opening round the team got a wake-up call on the first stage of the Armour Hardware Hellyer Rally when former champion Craig Brooks and co-driver Daniel Willson won by 10 seconds over the 8.8-kilometre stage in their Subaru WRX Spec C.
This team had not contested the opening round but Brooks had made it clear he was going to have a big go in his quest to win the Victor Huddlestone Memorial trophy.
Unfortunately their good run came to an end on stage four with engine problems but then the battle was taken up to the Mitsubishi team by multiple Targa Tasmania winner Jason White who had made a welcome return to gravel rallying in an Evo 5 Mitsubishi with car owner Eddie Maguire.
This team settled in quickly to match Walkem-Grimwood on the 40-kilometre stage five despite brake problems and won the final stage to finish two minutes overall behind the winners and one minute, 48 seconds ahead of the Subaru WRX Spec C of former champions Lynn Rattray and Lindon Hills.
The Rattray-Hills team featured in a great battle over the nine- stage 160-kilometre event with fourth-placed Andrew Wylie and David Catt in their earlier Subaru WRX, and at the end the gap was only five seconds.
These two teams traded times throughout the event and it came down to the final eight-kilometre stage for the result to be settled.
In the two-wheel-drive class round-one winner Darren Clark and co-driver Andrew Morris scored a comfortable win in their Mazda RX7 from the Commodore of Stuart Rattray and Jamie Young and the BMW E30 of Ashley House and Griffin Poke.
It was a great effort by House and Poke, newcomers to the world of rallying although House has been competing in speedway racing.
TASMANIA'S Owen Kelly finished a charging fourth last weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Road America course after running out of fuel halfway through the race and being towed back to the pits.
Kelly had set the pace in qualifying, missing out on pole position by a fraction of a second.
The car was towed back to the pits under a full course yellow and due to the long circuit length of over six kilometres, Kelly was able to get back, refuel and rejoin the race without going down a lap.
He then proceeded to storm through the field in a great drive to finish fourth and again reinforce his reputation as a competitive driver on road courses in the second tier nationwide series.