Last weekend’s third round of the Tasmanian Rally Championship turned out to be one of the most exciting events for some years with three top-class teams in the mix to the finish.
After two heats and 110 competitive kilometres in the Les Walkden Enterprises Mountain Stages Rally, 2016 national champions Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes came out on top in their Subaru WRX STi by just twenty-nine seconds.
They had an event-long battle with the second-placed team of Craig Brooks and Steve Glenney in another Subaru.
Brooks and Glenney should have won the first heat except for a slow time on the twelve-kilometre stage two.
As it was they were only five seconds behind at the end of the four-stage heat, having won the first stage and blitzing the field in the third stage.
Consistency was the key to the Taylor/Hayes effort, recording four consecutive second places. However, in the second heat over the same four stages, they won three of the stages taking the heat by twenty four seconds and the round.
Third place in each heat and overall was the championship leader Eddie Maguire and co-driver Jason White in the Evo 9 Mitsubishi Lancer who were only twelve seconds behind Brooks/Glenney at the end of the event.
They won three of the eight stages, but lost time in stages one and three which would have made all the difference to their heat positions and overall.
With Taylor/Hayes not eligible for points in the TRC, Maguire retains his lead having now scored four wins and two seconds in the six heats of the championship run so far.
The two wheel-drive class saw a surprise winner with Nathan Roddam and Mark Young coming home in tenth place overall to be the first two wheel-drive in the field after two more-fancied entries failed to finish.
Stephen Turner and Kate Catford were expected to be the team to beat in the front-wheel drive, world rally-specification Ford Fiesta R2, but unfortunately they went off on stage one and were forced to withdraw.
That left the door open for Matt How and Nathan Walker in the sweet-sounding six-cylinder BMW, but they had issues on stage six and were forced to retire.
The Subaru RS Challenge attracted nine entries with challenge leaders Nic Grave and Craig Sheahan not only keeping their winning streak going, but finishing a remarkable seventh overall.
Ben Newman and Tim Kulhanek finished second in the challenge series from newcomers Angus Kennard and Ian Wheeler who were making the transition from tarmac rallying to the gravel.
The final round of the TRC will be the Southern Safari on September 9 to be run by the 500 Car Club.
End of an era at Silverstone
In 1950 the Silverstone circuit in England hosted the very first Formula One Grand Prix, but this great racing tradition is about to come to an end, which could have some far-reaching implications.
This week the owners of the circuit exercised the break clause in the contract which effectively means that 2019 will be the last F1 race at the iconic circuit.
The British Racing Drivers Club, as the owners of the circuit, has advised the F1 owners, Liberty Media, that they can no longer sustain the losses they have incurred in the past two years.
The BRDC has to pay Liberty Media 16.2 million pounds to host Sunday’s race, and based on the original five per cent yearly increase set previously by Bernie Ecclestone, it meant the club would be up for 25 million pounds in 2026.
No doubt Liberty Media would want to continue having the race at Silverstone but if they were to reduce the sanctioning fee for the BRDC then every other circuit would jump on the band wagon.
That would mean a reduced profit to LM and lower payments to the teams so there are obviously some big decisions to be made in the future.
At a time when some teams are struggling to survive this is going to be a difficult period.