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Gooseberry Hill rally driver and WARC frontrunner John O’Dowd had to settle for third after encountering throttle problems. Picture: TIM ALLOTT

Throttle trouble puts O’Dowd off the pace

IT was an all Subaru podium on Saturday for the fourth round of the CAMS Onslow Contracting Western Australian Rally Championship (WARC) with Stephen Oxley beating out fellow Subaru drivers Kody Reynolds and John O’Dowd.

The new course layout comprising of 127 competitive kilometres was well received by competitors, and held up well despite wet weather earlier in the week. 

Described by Oxley as “a rally for the brave” the course had many large WRC-style blind crests which commanded notes to be on point as to what lay on the other side.

Last year’s battle at Kirup between current championship front runners John O’Dowd and Stephen Oxley was a close one, and this year the two drivers would once again keep each other on their toes.

Championship frontrunner and Gooseberry Hill resident O’Dowd and co-driver Toni Feaver managed to claim the quickest time in the Maximum Motorsport Subaru STi on five of the six stages. 

However throttle problems on SS3, which was the suspected aftermath from a hard jump landing on an earlier stage, cost them a lot of time in a stage on which Oxley and co-driver Michael Wood shone.

“The main objective was to beat John in the championship,” said Oxley. 

“We probably tried too hard on the first two stages and over drove it, which led to a couple of minor errors, but, they add up and he beat us on both of those stages.

“Then when we came into service I had a bit of a deeper think about our performance and pulled my head in. 

It must’ve worked, we went out into SS3 and had a really good run – our pace notes worked really well with no errors. 

We were 29 seconds faster than anyone in the field on that stage and were really happy with our time.

“When we went out to do the night stages we tried to take it reasonably easy. 

“We didn’t want to lose that margin through going too hard and damaging something.”

Oxley and Wood kept the margin in the night stages and won the event outright by 3 minutes 20 seconds. 

Kody Reynolds and Anthony Staltari were the next to cross the finish line in the Trade Hire Subaru STI. 

O’Dowd and Feaver rounded out the podium in third, a mere five seconds behind Reynolds and Staltari.

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He was a finalist in three categories in the 2018 WA Media Awards and is not at all salty that he didn't win at least one. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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