Rocky rivals wreak havoc at rally
RALLY: RED dirt flew, tyres blew and lightning speeds dazed spectators at the International Rally of Queensland three-tiered event.
Hundreds flocked trackside to cheer on competitors and their roaring engines in Round 3 of the Asia Pacific Championship and Australia Rally Championship and Round 3/4 of the Queensland Rally Championships.
Rockhampton-based head driver Wayne Menzies and navigator Chris Baxter finished second outright in the QRC Round 4 behind their long-term rival Ian Menzies and his co-driver Robert McGowan.
The two days of competition saw 10 cars contest the QRC division across 18 staged tracks over a total of 207km at the Imbil Forest, Sunshine Coast.
"We pedalled pretty well despite being a bit off pace early in the competition," Baxter said.
Driving their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII, the local pair roared around the track, reaching speeds of 200kmh.
"We love the big, open, sweeping tracks, they are where we can reach our highest speeds," Baxter said.
"It's a big adrenaline rush; the co-driver always has to be one step ahead of the driver to help warn what is up in front."
After suffering a mechanical failure in Round 1 of the QRC and finishing third in the Wowan rally, Baxter and Menzies had plenty to prove as the highest-seeded Rockhampton drivers.
Starting fourth on the grid, separated by two-minute intervals, Baxter admitted it was anyone's game.
"We were lucky late in the stage our best combinations seemed to click," he said.
"But we have been racing together for over 12 years so that definitely helps."
After taking the QRC overall trophy in 2011, Baxter knew he and Menzies still had plenty of room for improvement.
"We have won a few rallies over the years but mechanical problems have been our biggest hindrance lately," he said.
"But I think we have that all under control, after blowing a few turbo chargers and pipes earlier this year."
Rockhampton rev-head Mark Byrne and co-driver Laura Hammett had an impressive showing in their Datsun Bluebird, despite missing the first day due to mechanical problems.
"We had a bit of a mechanical failure with our front suspension so we had to come back in to service the car," Byrne said.
"We ran the whole second day with an engine/electrical problem but that didn't stop us from winning the Classics and 2WD classes."
Drivers will line up for Round 5 of the QRC Living Here Wilston Winter Stages at the Jimna Forest on August 15.