By TONY CREER
DRY, dusty and slippery roads greeted the 32 competitors in the GK Denney Tyres Coffs Coast Rally on Saturday.
Spectators were treated to a 440 metre tarmac stage in the carpark at the Big Banana.
From there the crews went into the forest for eight stages totalling 148 competitive kilometres.
A total of 12 crews failed to finish the rally with four roll overs and two mechanical failures in the harsh conditions.
Some of the problems included bits of the engine getting out of Michael Williams Datsun engine and a heater fitting on Robert Tamini's Toyota Corolla.
Henry Bensch and Sean Beattie were disappointed to roll their Datsun 180B half way through Special Stage 2 after much work sorting out of the fuel injection system prior to this event.
David Darby and Brian Everingham won the event convincingly from local favourites Mal Keough and Troy Gordon both in 4WD Mitsubishi Lancers.
These two crews were generally only separated by a matter of seconds on most stages.
But David has his car reliable and fast and is driving with great confidence and is currently the man to beat.
Tony Creer and Chris Brownlow achieved their goal, finishing as they did last year, in third overall and first two wheel drive home.
They are absolutely ecstatic with their result as they were still sorting out a problem with the car on the morning of the event.
The pair pushed very hard all night to finish four minutes in front of Armidale's Richard Opie and David Opie in yet another Mitsubishi Lancer.
Mark Beard, from Coffs, and Matt Sosimenko, from Sydney, were seventh in their Subaru RS 4WD after spending three minutes stuck just off the road in Special Stage 3.
Lee Falkner and Rick Gough from Grafton, in a Datsun 1600, finished a fine ninth overall in Lee's first forest rally for a number of years.
Lee has been competing in the Targa Tasmania in a Datsun 260Z over the last few years.
Joel Payne and girlfriend Belinda Scalding were 20 seconds behind Lee in 10th place after losing 30 seconds in the very last 5km stage with a leaking turbo gasket.
Mark Devine and Gianni Accadia were 17th in another Datsun 1600.
They had great fun considering they had an early exit from the event last year.
Michael Kirkwood and Greg Wiseman, in a Toyota Celica, were stoked to finish 20th in the gruelling event that continued through the night until 10.09pm.Thanks go to rally director Bruce McDougall and the wonderful team of volunteers who did so much work to ensure the event ran smoothly.
If you have any rally photos from Saturday you would like to share with us send them to Coffs Harbour District Sporting Car Club PO Box 101 Coffs Harbour 2450.