WILL ORDERS stormed to victory in the opening round of the 2017 RXAus series at Marulan, while Michael Coyne and Troy Dowel also starred.
The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO driver edged out multiple Irish RallyCross champion Michael Coyne’s two-wheel-drive Mazda 2 to win the six-lap Super Final that capped off a thrilling opening round of the all-new series.
Orders also won the 4WD Open class, while Troy Dowel won the 4WD Production Class and Coyne the 2WD battle.
The three class final winners finished 1-2-3 in the 6-lap Super Final to cap off a strong day.
Orders’ remarkable performance came despite completing almost no laps in practice and various struggles across all three heats thanks to an array of technical issues on his newly-developed Mitsubishi.
With the Super Final grid determined by the fastest overall times from the preceding finals, Orders started on the pole for the six-lap race, Irishman Michael Coyne starting alongside in his rapid two-wheel-drive Mazda 2.
The race was a straightforward fight between the pair, Order clearly quicker on the front straight and Coyne closing in through Marulan’s technical sections. In a pressure-cooker six laps, Orders won by a narrow margin in a classic all-wheel-drive versus two-wheel drive fight.
“We were really were just shaking bugs out of the car for two practices and three heat races!” Orders explained.
“We thought the day was over but we thought ‘Lets fix it and get it out for the final – that’s what it was all about.’
“We had no laps and were guessing on setup on tyre pressures but it all came good.”
Orders said the opening round of the series was a positive start for the category this year.
“It’s been a really positive weekend. Everyone has been very enthusiastic and supportive of what we’re doing and there’s a lot of interest moving forward,” he said.
“Everyone has come here and the only real damage inflicted to the cars was self-inflicted! There was no panel rubbing and really close racing so I don’t think you can get much better than that.”
Troy Dowel finished third after an epic race-long battle with fellow VW Polo driver Sean Bolger, the pair evenly matched across the day both in their class and the final. It was only late in the race that saw Dowel solidify himself into the final spot on the podium.
Dowel also won the young driver award for round one thanks to his consistent weekend-long performance though 14-year-old Bolger continued to impress with his speed and racecraft.
A giant-killing performance saw Mike Conway fourth in his classic Ford Escort Mk. II, Andrew Murdoch’s Subaru, Sean Bolger and Michael Harding completing the runners.
Conway’s stunning escort won the Production 2WD class in a giant-killing weekend for the classic racer.
A notable non-finisher was Justin Dowel, who despite winning three heat races and placing second to Orders in the 4WD Open final, was unable to complete the Super final, parking his Hyundai I30 on the side of the circuit before half-race.
16-year-old Troy Dowel won a thrilling 4WD Production Class final, edging out Sean Bolger and Andrew Murdoch after a race-long three way dice.
While Dowel assumed the lead early, Bolger and Murdoch battled over second place with the position swapping three times during the six-lap final: Bolger scraping through on the final lap to grab second behind Dowel in a VW Polo 1-2.
Will Orders defeated arch-rival Justin Dowel in the 4WD open final, despite failing to finish all three preliminary heats with mechanical issues.
Despite his earlier dramas, Orders trailed Dowel’s Hyundai early in the race however was able to jump the Hyundai by using the joker lap – and after several intense laps was able to draw away in the closing laps to win a thriller.
Irish RallyCross champion Michael Coyne won the 2WD Production / Open final, beating home Mike Conway’s screaming Ford Escort RS.
The next round of the 2017 RXAus series will also be held at the Marulan circuit on 14 May.