2019 Mitta Mountain Rally incorporating the Mitta Masters – report courtesy of rally.com.au
CAMS Australian Rally Championship regulars Glenn Raymond and Kate Catford have begun their 2019 campaign in style after taking out the 2019 Border Oils & Batteries Mitta Mountain Rally.
Acting as a joint round between the CAMS Hino Geelong Victorian Rally Championship and the CAMS MTA New South Wales Rally Championship, 50 crews from both sides of the border took part in the popular season opener.
Behind the wheel of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, Raymond and Catford finished second in the opening stage behind current NSW champions Glenn Brinkman and Harvey Smith, before finishing 20 seconds faster than their rivals in the second stage.
There was no stopping them from there as they went on to comfortably claim the remaining three stages and seal a victory of more than two minutes over Tristan Kent and Robert Males.
Rounding out the overall podium a further two minutes behind the Mitsubishi Evo pilots were Richard Shimmon and Jim Gleeson, with the pair securing aMitsubishi podium lockout.
Despite the winners hailing from Victoria, they were only registered to the NSW championship. Therefore Kent and Males took out the Victorian top spot, while finishing second in New South Wales.
Like the runners-up, Shimmon and Gleeson were registered to both championships and finished second in the Victorian standings above Ivan Regester and Paul Humm, the Subaru WRX pilots placing sixth outright.
Finishing above the pair in the outright standings was Tony Sullens and Kaylie Newell who were driving the only Citroen of the field and 2018 ARC2champions Andrew Penny and Rhys Llewellyn.
While the event was seamless for some, just under half of crews faced some sort of issue throughout the event including both 2018 state champions.
The 2018 Victorian champions Ben and Cathy Hayes were the first of the two crews to suffer an early exit, falling on the third stage after picking up a sixth and eighth in the opening two stages. Their sole event planned for the 2019 season coming to a premature end.
For the defending New South Wales Champions Brinkman and Smith, it was a slower exit despite suffering issues on the same stage. After picking up a first and second in the opening two stages, the pair fell down to 33rd outright in the next two stages before retiring ahead of the fifth and final stage.
Other notable exits included Aaron Windus and Daniel Brkic, the crew’s Lancer failing to finish the second stage after finishing a competitive third in the opener.
Another ARC pair to face a disappointing start to their 2019 campaign were Marcus and Scott Walkem after the Peugeot AP4 pilots failed to finish two out of the five stages.
Also taking place at the season opener was the Mitta Masters as Ford Escort Mk 2 pilots Justin Walker and Blaise McNamara secured a 30-second victory ahead of Brian Semmens and Dan Parry, with both crews sealing their respective classes.
Incredibly, Walker and McNamara only won the event’s fifth and final stage which it turned out to be the most important as they finished three minutes ahead of Luke Sytema and Adam Wright – who had posted the fastest time in every stage in the lead up to the final stage.
An unfortunate run in the event’s second heat to Sytema and Wright saw them drop first to third outright and second in the Classic Rally Car – Authentic class behind Walker and McNamara.