This year’s event which forms part if the Australian Rally Championship (ARC) and South Australian Rally Championship (SARC, round 4) was also a Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) qualifier event. The event was not so much run in the Adelaide Hills proper as stages there were only run once with stages out in the Monarto area west of Murray Bridge being run twice and 2 stages at The Bend Motorsport Park complex (not on council roads) being run several times. These included within the paddocks (North stage) of the complex, on the tarmac race track itself (as GT Plus stage, and East stage) as well as the short rallycross stage. That weekend The Bend was also hosting the The Bend Motorfest, combining several Australian motorsport championship rounds, including the GT Fanatec series, Radical Cup series, Prototypes. This gave motorsport fans exposure to the rally as well being run at the same time as the other events on unused parts of the motorsport track. Friday night after the Motorfest events had been completed saw the rally cars take to the full GT course (GT Plus) 4 times! The event was unfortunately marred by cancelled stages (SS12 Monarto2, SS13 Rockleigh2).
APRC – Competing in the APRC would be the two Bates brothers, Lewis and Harry (from Australian Capital Territory, or basically Canberra) in identical Toyota Yaris AP4s, Richard Dalton/Dale Moscatt (also in a Yaris) and Daniel Gonzalez/Larisa Biggar (from Western Australia) in a Skoda Fabia R5. At the end of Day 1, Lewis Bates (with Anthony McLoughlin as co-driver) led from his brother Harry (with John McCarthy), by 6.6secs with Dalton 42secs further back in 3rd. Day 2 saw Lewis Bates come out in top again (1min 20secs in the lead), but only after the sister Yaris car caught on fire. This moved Dalton to 2nd overall and Gonzalez to 3rd. Harry Bates Yaris was back in on Day 3, but with the accumulated late times allocated in Day 2 was not able to climb up from last. Lewis Bates would lead on all 3 days by an overall margin of 1min 22secs from Dalton.
ARC – The ARC component would have 20 cars competing in it, including the 4 APRC cars. Arron Windus/Tracey Dewhurst (Ford Fiesta G4), Nathan Quinn/Ray Winwood-Smith (from New South Wales) and Troy Dowel/Bernie Webb from Victoria (both in Hyundai i20 G4s) and Dean Ridge/Phillip Bonser from New South Wales (well-presented Citroen DS3 R3T) brought some more exotic machinery from interstate. Interstate Subarus at the event were Taylor Gill/Daniel Brkic from New South Wales (Subaru WRX Sti 2005 shape), Max McRae/Mac Kierans from Western Australia (Subaru WRX) and Jamie Luff/Bradley Luff from New South Wales (Subaru WRX STi). Heading the SA contingent would be Guy Tyler/Steve Fisher (Mitsubishi Magna), Zayne Admiraal/Heywood (Subaru WRX 2001). The first casualty of the event would be Stephen Mee/Nathan Quartermaine with their Toyota Corolla not even completing the first of the GT Plus stages. After the GT Plus stages were completed, the APRC cars would be on top, split by Windus in the Ford Fiesta and Quinn tying with Dalton for 4th. Best of the SA teams would be Tyler in 11th overall.
At the end of Day 2, the APRC entrants still dominated with the exclusion of Harry Batess’ Yaris. Dalton in the Hyundai i20 G4 had moved to 2nd. Several cars had been given allocated times on SS10 Charliegate stage. Admiraal had moved his Subaru WRX up to 7th overall, well clear of Tyler in the Mitsi’ Magna. Also of note would be Molly Spalding/Johnson in a Subaru RS Impreza into 9th overall, fresh from her stint in Rally Star series in India. McRae (Subaru WRX) did not finish SS7 Monarto1, with Windus out of the event on SS8 Rockleigh1. Peterson/Newton (Nissan Pulsar) would join the list of retirements on SS9 Blumberg.
Day 3 was a very wet affair with trying conditions all day, forcing the omission of parts of the East stage which incorporated narrow access tracks adjacent the The Bend racing circuit. All stages in Day 3 were contained within The Bend Motorsport Park property south of Tailem Bend using the North stage (dirt), East stage (tarmac) and short Stadium stage (tarmac/dirt), each run a few times (ie no stages in the actual Adelaide Hills). Lewis Bates/Anthony McLoughlin would take out ARC honours overall from Richard Dalton/Dale Moscatt (also in a Yaris), from Troy Dowel/Bernie Webb (Hyundai i20 G4) from Daniel Gonzalez/Larisa Biggar (Skoda Fabia R5) before the highest finishing of the Subarus with Jamie and Bradley Luff taking their WRX STi to 5th overall in the trying conditions. Nathan Quinn/Ray Winwood-Smith in the other Hyundai finished 6th overall, followed by the Subarus of Zayne Admiraal/Matt Heywood, Taylor Gill/Daniel Brkic and Molly Spalding/Douglas Johnson. Guy Tyler/Steve Fisher in the rather large barge of a Mitsubishi Magna rally car would only manage 11th, quite different from taking out the last SARC event (Rally Barossa) outright.
SARC – The SARC category included some former SARC championship drivers, notably Declan Dwyer with daughter Zoe alongside (Mitsubishi EVO6), and Jamie Pohlner/Adam Branford (Mitsubishi EVO9). Pohlner’s ex-Subaru WRX was now in the hands of Michael and Casey Mohr. Other interesting cars in this category included the Renault Clio of Glenn Campbell/Darren Ambrose, Mark Povey’s spectacular Datsun Stanza and the Alfa Romeo GTV6 Replica of Bruce Field/Karien Heinsohn. End of Day1 saw Pohlner leading Dwyer by 0.7secs, with Tyler in 3rd and then Admiraal in 4th followed by the Alfa.
Day 2, the longest day with lots of transport sections, still had Pohlner leading Dwyer, but now Admiraal had moved his Subaru up to 3rd with partner Molly Spalding behind in 4th and Mohr in 5th. Field’s Alfa had dropped to 7th. Neil and Andrea Gehan in a Subaru WRX Si RA unfortunately had to retire from the event due to a cam wheel on the motor breaking on the last run on Friday. At the end of Day 3 another car had dropped out, the ex-Pedder Mitsubishi EVO3 of Jason Thiele/David Langfield. The top 5 were the same as Day 3, so in the end Jamie Pohlner took out the SARC honours by only 16secs from Declan Dwyer who was 1min 6secs clear of Zayne Admiraal.