CHAMPIONSHIP front runners Eli Evans and Michael Boaden were the big winners on a carnage filled first day of the Snake Racing Coffs Coast Rally.
A number of leading drivers were forced out with crashes and mechanical problems as the pace of the rally took its toll early.
However the big news on the day was Boaden and Evans wrapping up the 4WD and 2WD ARC series with a round still to be raced.
It was a tough day for 2WD series challenger Jack Monkhouse and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin who escaped unharmed from a 160km/h end over end roll over.
Monkhouse's Nissan Silvia was destroyed on the third stage after he 'ran out of road' while pushing hard in sixth gear with worn tyres.
Victorian Evans had a clear run over the day's eight stages in his factory Honda Jazz to take the heat win ahead of the Holden Commodore Ute of Matt Amos by a massive four minutes 15.4 seconds.
Evans admitted conditions were challenging all day.
"This event is hard on the cars and mentally challenging too," said Evans.
"The brakes were really spongy towards the end of stages one, three, five and seven but we've had a pretty good run today.
"It's great to be able to wrap up the two wheel drive championship, and now we can have some fun."
In the 4WD category Boaden maintained his recent form winning the heat by 1 minute 15.7 seconds from the Mitsubishi Evo VII of John Mitchell.
Western Australian hotshot Nic Box retired after spinning and sliding off the road into the trees on stage two and is left to wait overnight to see if he will be able to return to action tomorrow.
Boaden believed the days events has proven that anything can happen on the Coffs Coast.
"A lot of guys had issues out there," Boaden said.
"We had a healthy lead by mid-way through the day so we were able to take it a little bit easy and secure the Championship."
|Bosch 2WD Snake Racing Coffs Coast Rally heat one results|
|1. Eli Evans/Glen Weston||Honda Jazz||1h 13m 6.9 seconds|
|2.Matt Amos/Tom Ryan||Holden Commodore||1h 17m 22.3 seconds|
|3. Mark Pedder/Claire Ryan||Honda Jazz||1h 18m 29.6 seconds|
|Bosch 4WD Snake Racing Coffs Coast Rally heat one results|
|1. Michael Boaden/Helen Cheers||Mitsubishi Evo IX||1h 11m 4.5 seconds|
|2. John Mitchell/Jo Cadman||Mitsubishi Evo IX||1h 12m 15.7 seconds|
|3. Mick Patton/Bernie Webb||Subaru WRX STI||1h 13m 25 seconds|