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 and Gooseberry Hill resident 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 fourth 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,” he said.
“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.
“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.