event reports

Clean sweep for Kaplan, but Travis still leads

Adam Kaplan/Aleisha Penney - Mazda RX7

Clean sweep for Kaplan on day five, winning every stage. Photo: Craig O’Brien

Adam Kaplan and Aleisha Penney continued to set the pace in their Mazda RX7, with a clean sweep on day five of the Lasseters Classic Outback Trial. Meanwhile, Andrew and David Travis extended their lead to 7m17s at the top of the standings with two days to go.The day commenced with an early morning blast along the wide, open Altunga Tourist Drive where Kaplan went fastest by 3 seconds from the rally leaders, with the Tuthill Porsche of Van Cauwenberge/Castelein a further 30 seconds adrift. On the short SS22 Hale Plain nothing could separate the Mazda and the Porsche as they recorded the same time over the five and half kilometre test across the sand before reaching Old Ambalindum Homestead for the 45-minute service break.

In the afternoon loop, Kaplan and Penney’s lack of blind event experience didn’t appear to hinder them as they completed the full house, topping the times on every stage for the day. Having won eight of the last nine stages, it left many wondering what might have been, had the pair not got bogged and encountered electrical problems earlier in the week.

A string of consistent times enabled Travis to extend his lead overall despite having not won a stage since SS13, late on Tuesday morning. With two days to play, they’re edging closer to securing a remarkable third consecutive Classic Outback Trial and fourth overall. The Porsche crew sit in second with Argentinians Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Volta rounding out the top 3.

In the Modern Class, Alice Springs local Chris McCormack and his son Blake continue to head the field in their Mitsubishi Magna but their lead was somewhat reduced by 2016 class champions Peter Neal and Craig Whyburn in their WRX who made some valuable gains throughout the day to reduce the gap to less than 10 minutes. Peter Sweeney and Dan Murphy sit third in another Subaru.