Selected photos from the 2019 Copyworld Walky 100 centred, around Eudunda in the mid north of South Australia. As with last year, the weather had a say in proceedings and decided that the Roast stage up on the plateau was too dry, dumping a fair bit of rain on the stage literally minutes before the cars were to use the stage. Compared with last year, there was much less mud at the spectator corner on Hill Big One. The rally comprised 3 northern traditional Walky 100 stages, and the 3 stages south of Eudunda. The entry list of 20 cars was dominated by 9 Subaru WRXs, although 4 Ford Escorts were also entered. Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6) were the ones to beat, having made this event their own in recent years, but eager to get one up on the Walky 100 king would be teams of Zayne Admiraal and Matthew Heywood (Subaru WRX), Aaron Bowering and Nathan Lowe (Suburu WRX), Matthew Selley and Hamish McKendrick (Ford Escort Mk2 Warrior) and Jamie Pohlner and Ken Moore (Subaru WRX).
SS1 Hill Big One, down on the plains and still being run in the wrong direction for many rally fans and drivers would see Bowering strike first blood (3mins 54secs), just pipping Dwyer by 1sec, 4secs faster than Pohlner and well clear of Admiraal, 8secs in arrears. Selley would have a stage he would rather forget, recording a stage time over 6mins and effectively erasing any chance of a decent result. Heavy rain would make SS2 Roast Reverse treacherous but Admiraal triumphed over Dwyer by 46secs. Bowering was driving a consistent rally and took out the SS3 Julia stage to lead the rally overall with Pohlner after the first 3 stages, with Admiraal nipping at their heals 4 secs behind while Dwyer languished well behind. Best of the rest were Rob Hunt/Jeremy Browne and Paul Knopka/Neil Branum.
On the return leg, Dwyer would atone for the slow time on Roast 2 but only narrowly over Admiraal and Bowering. On the faster open council roads of Julia, Dwyer took 7secs out of Admiraal’s overall lead. Bowering would however win the stage, although Pohlner was staying well in touch. At the end of the northern stages, Bowering held an overall lead of 10secs over Admiraal, with Pohlner 7 secs further back, and Dwyer languishing 35secs behind the leader.
First up of the southern stages was SS7 Frankton 1, one of the longer stages of the rally, ending at the famous bridge at Dutton and having some sections of black gloopy gravel. Dwyer would find a good rhythm and start to claw his way back towards the pointy end, outclassing the rest of the field by 5secs to Bowering, 7secs to Admiraal and Pohlner by 16secs. The Triangle (SS8), comprising the hilly Leakes Pass and Smith Road stages of 2018, and joined by fast straight council road with 2 slow points, really suited Dwyer and he totally smashed the opposite, winning the stage by 16secs to Admiraal and more importantly sending a clear message to outright leader Bowering, now only trailing by 12secs. Dwyer’s rivals must have thought “here we go again!”. Hansborough stage (SS9), just south of Eudunda comprised the bulletproof road of the Tableland stage of 2018 and adding in the grey gravel Daveys Road hill to the south and lumpy bumpy Wandel Road downhill to the north. Dwyer again nibbled away at the overall lead, beating Admiraal and Bowering by 7 and 8secs respectively. Bowering’s overall lead had now been whittled back to just 4secs. Pohlner had by now started to fall away from the 3 front runners.
All that remained now was the repeat of the 3 southern stages, to be run at night and test the mettle of diehard rally spectators out in the cold! A cruel blow would strike Bowering, struggling to get through the Frankton 2 stage stopping several times to fix the car. After leading the majority of the rally, he plummeted to near the tail end of the field, only just above Chris Bennet and Dave Rowe in the last placed Subaru WRX. Admiraal would beat Dwyer by 2secs. Dwyer now held the overall lead by 4secs, creating a nail biting finish to the rally. The Triangle tackled in the dark with its many sharp corners would be the real test and not one for the faint-hearted. Dwyer again dominated, winning by 5secs from Admiraal in the now 2-horse race, and opening up a 10sec buffer overall as the King of the Walky Rally headed for yet another win. One last ditch effort was required by Admiraal on the very last stage of the rally, Hansborough 2 and he won that challenge by a staggering 9secs putting him just 0.6sec behind Dwyer overall. However there was a cruel blow awaited Dwyer who was 5sec penalty, handing the victory to Zayne Admiraal and Matthew Heywood. This would be one of the greatest Walky 100s. Third overall was the consistent Jamie Pohlner and Ken Moore. Having their own battle behind the front runner was Rob Hunt and Jeremy Browne leading home Paul Knopka and Neil Branum. Wayne Mason and David Langfield brought home their Ford Escort MkII in 6th. Only 2 cars did not finish, Matt Selley’s Ford Escort MkII Warrior and father and daughter team Neil Gehan and Andrea Gehan bowing out after the second to last stage.