Resounding win to Close and Reeves in GTR

Five stage wins on Day 2 gave Matt Close and Cameron Reeves victory in the Great Tarmac Rally. Image: ATR

The final Australian Tarmac Rally event for 2023, the Great Tarmac Rally, was won by Matt Close and Cameron Reeves in a Modern AWD class Audi TTRS Sport.

They won six stages on their way to a resounding two and a half minute victory. Second place went to Dean Lillee and Chris Exner in their Early Modern Mazda RX7 while third were Jeff Morton and Daymon Nicoli aboard their Modern 2WD Porsche GT2 RS.

Based out of Marysville in Victoria, the event covered 12 stages and included areas such as Cambarville, Cumberland Junction and the Eildon-Jamieson Road via Buxton and Taggerty for a total of 240km of competition and 98km touring.

With wins earlier in the season in Mt Baw Baw and Snowy River Sprint, as well as fourth in the Lake Mountain Sprint, Jason and Fiona Wright went in as favourites in their Nissan R35 GTR.

But it was LMS winners, Mick Harding and James Thornburn (Super Rally Subaru Impreza WRX STi) who took the first stage over 7km, ahead of Paul Dowie and John Allen (Porsche GT3RS), Morton, Wright and Close.

Wright took out the next (19.45km) stage from Morton, Harding, Close, Mark Cates and Bernie Webb (GT2 RS). Morton led the way from there, with two stage wins as Close and Cates took one each. At the end of the day, Morton had a 13.3s lead over Cates and Close as Lillee was inside the top five ahead of Dowie.

The Wrights’ chance of a third ATR win for the season were over after Stage 4 with engine and gearbox issues. Harding was also a retiree with mechanical gremlins.

Close took the challenge to Morton on Day 2 when the rain came. He won five stages and was fourth on the penultimate stage which was won by Lillee. Cates only did the first stage, retiring without suitable rubber for the conditions. Only 10 of the 60 entries did not complete the event, and just one due to an accident.

Fourth place went to Liam and Larry Howarth (Nissan Skyline GTR V-Spec) ahead of Dowie, Toby Gill/Alice McKenzie (GTR), Neil and Sue Cuthbert (Lotus Exige 350 Sport) Jon and Gina Siddins (Datsun 240), Geoff Olholm/John Dobie (Toyota Supra) and Max Williams/Bruce Bush (Porsche Cayman GT4).

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