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2014 Sea Lake – The Tasmanian Wrap
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
The 2014 MBL Sea Lake Mallee Rally ARB 350 attracted four Tasmanian teams to cross the water to Victoria to compete in one of the off road calendar’s favourite races. The small town of Sea Lake comes alive once a year when the invasion of off road racers hits town for an iconic event now in its 41st year.

2533b_sm Tasmania had representatives spread over four classes; Darren Bott in Extreme 4WD, Stephen Watkins Performance 2WD, Chris Boon ProLite and Scott Rockliff in Pro Buggy. With the first wave of the Tasmanian contingent rolling into town on Thursday the Apple Isle took pride of place in the recreational ground, setting up base for the 4 cars and 20 plus crew needed for the Lake Tyrell assault.

Prologue started the event off early Saturday morning with crews arriving to an arena covered in low lying fog, all hoping the sun would break through before the stop watches came out and a start time was produced around the 8km prologue track.

All four cars had a successful lap securing starting positions for Sunday’s race; Rockliff cracking the top ten in 9th outright followed by Boon in 34th, Watkins 76th and Bott in 84th from the 106 car field.

The flag dropped Sunday in perfect conditions for racing, with Glen Owen and Danny Brown leaving for their first of four laps around the 88km track at 9.30am followed at 30 second intervals by the rest of the field.

For current state champion Chris (Tiny) Boon lap one ended his event 7kms from the end with gearbox failure in the Hayabusa powered ProLite - disappointing for Tiny who had made up several position on the opening lap .

Stephen Watkins and navigator Gian Bianchi completed their 4 laps in a time of 3hrs and 30 minutes earning the team second in class and 37th in the outright standings. The Watkins Automotive prepared Toyota Tacoma had a faultless race, Watkins happy with recent suspension work on the truck.

The crew of Darren Bott and Glenn Williams had their Chev powered GU Patrol moving forward through the field in the opening laps picking up over 30 positions until problems on their last lap with a blocked fuel filter slowed the GU’s progress. The guys still managing to do enough to take home the silverware for third in class, a great result for the team.

Scott Rockliff left the line in 9th position alongside local Andrew (Rags) McClelland; Rags leading the way from the line showing the interstater the “best way round the lake”. By the end of two laps and the start of the 1 hour service break the Pro Buggy of Rockliff had moved into 5th position and was hunting down the fellow Subaru powered buggy of Michael Collins.

After four consistent laps the #22 Pro Buggy crossed the line in fourth outright - the best finish to date for Rockliff at an interstate event.

The Queen’s Birthday long week end has always been a popular time for Tassie teams to cross the Strait and with the current trend, next year might just be an invasion from the Southern State with plenty of interest in one of Australia’s best races!

Source: Michael & Marianne Donohoe,

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