Sandy Nott and David Langfield have delivered a superb effort in difficult conditions to win round 4 of the South Australian Rally Championship, the Scouts Rally SA. Despite the extremely slippery stage conditions in the Mt Crawford and Kutipo forest areas where the rally was held, Nott and Langfield climbed to first place early in Heat 3 and managed to hold off the charge from second place Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams in their Evo 6.
Dwyer and Adams sped to an early lead on Friday’s Heat 1, but were soon suffering from brake problems later in the day that left them with as little as 30% brake capacity at some points. The pair clawed back their lead with a trouble free run on Saturday’s Heat 2, however despite winning Sunday’s Heat 3 they still couldn’t quite catch Nott’s Evo 4. But when everything was working as it should, the recently purchased white Evo was unstoppable. It was an absolute pleasure to watch Declan drive – every time we saw him he was right on the limit, but never stepping over it. Comparing stage times makes for interesting reading – Declan’s time through the famous Tweeden stage would have placed him third outright in the overall ARC 4WD category, especially stunning when you consider that his Evo 6 has considerably less power due to its lower state championship spec tune, and is a full decade older than the Evo 9 and 10 that were faster.
Dan Day and Steve Glenney had another trouble free run to claim the final podium position in Day’s STI. This is a strong result for the 18 year old Day, as entry into this year’s SARC (and ARC) with co-driver and mentor Steve Glenney is purely an experience gaining exercise to learn as much as possible for future campaigns.
Fourth place was claimed by James Rodda and Jim Gleeson, who had another trouble free run to claim valuable championship points. Despite not yet managing to win an event this year, Rodda has proven that consistency is the key and went into Rally SA leading the state championship. Dwyer has since claimed that lead by just a few points, but Rodda is still firmly within reach heading into the final round in a few weeks time. But the big news from Rally SA is that Rodda won the 4WD class of the Rallyschool Australian Junior Challenge, securing his place in the Junior Challenge grand final at the Coffs Coast ARC round in October.
This edition of Rally SA proved to be one of the toughest on record as it turned into a rally of attrition. Despite the relatively dry weather during the event in some of the coldest and wettest parts of the state in the middle of winter, very heavy rain in the weeks leading up to the rally meant the roads, particularly in Kuitpo forest, were boggy even before the event began. In many places the roads were seriously slippery, even walking across them was a challenge in not slipping and making a fool of oneself.
In fact it was so bad in some places that there was serious doubt as to whether the majority of Sunday’s stages would even run. Opinions varied widely – one stage was cancelled however some competitors called for all the stages to be cancelled, and this debate still continues as to what decision should have been made. Admittedly it wasn’t my car out there in the slippery conditions, but personally I think the organisers made the right call to continue with competition. Rallying isn’t just about driving sideways at 130+, it’s a tactical sport that requires educated judgement. It has always been subject to challenging weather conditions, and it’s often the way that competitors deal with the conditions on the day, not their outright speed, that determines the winner. You just need to take a look at the results to see what I mean. Whilst Declan’s speed and commitment was breathtaking to watch and his stage times were consistently faster than Sandy’s, this years event still showed that outright speed doesn’t necessarily earn you the top step of the podium.
No, it’s a never-say-die attitude that will get you there. I can’t believe I’m writing this yet again, but Guy Tyler had even more gearbox problems with his Clio Sport. With new navigator Kirrilee Gentleman, the poor kid struggled once again through an event when he’s really overdue for a good run. But it’s that determination that brought success – the 777 Rallysport team fixed the Clio and Tyler drove it to win the 2WD class of the Rallyschool Australian Junior Challenge at his last opportunity, qualifying him for the Coffs Coast final.
Massive air? Yep. Huge water splash? Yep. Big slides? Yep. Despite their mechanical problems, the most spectacular drive of the weekend award goes to Henry Nott and Chris Langley in the Datsun 1600. The photo above was taken just before a spin/donut, and luckily someone was there to capture it on video:
The actual event itself was a bit of a departure from the usual Rally SA format. The centrally located Adelaide Hills Council refused to grant road closures for the event, meaning many much loved stages could not be used. As a result of this, Friday and Saturday’s competition took place on the northern roads in the Mount Crawford forest and around the Gawler area, with Sunday’s competition reserved for the extended central hills around Mount Barker and Nairne and the Kuitpo forest, in the southern hills area.
The event began on Thursday night with the excellent King William Street Parade through the Adelaide CBD, and in another first the service park was moved into Edwards Park in the parklands and held on some old netball courts. Whilst this meant more transport kilometres for competitors as all of the stages were far away in the hills, it was fantastic for spectators having the service park right in the heart of the city.
The service park on Friday night was simply more ‘full’ than it normally would have been if it were in the hills, and it became a congregating point for people from all over. Some were crewing, some had been out on the stages all day and some had just come to hang out for a while after work, it was a cool atmosphere.
… it seems these days if you want a shot you need a service area complete with arched windows, a Liberace-esque baby grand-keyboard (that was actually fully playable), a candelabra and at least three chandeliers.
I think the new innovations were great, but the rally still could have been promoted to the public a lot better, as it had that kind of ‘underground’ feel to it sometimes – only the people in the know were there. Although I wasn’t alone in being surprised at how many people were at the Planetary spectator point. It was brilliant to see the enthusiasm of the crowd. Yes, the crowd.
Busby had a mixed event. A slight off on Friday put the freshly painted RX7 into the Mount Crawford trees, but luckily both him and co-driver Steve Fisher were unhurt. It’s rumoured that Steve jumped out the car, and then yelled ‘we’ve got 4 wheels, lets keep going’. Steve had to hold his door closed for the rest of the stage, but unfortunately the scrutineers determined that this wasn’t acceptable so their day was over. The video below shows how quickly it can all go wrong.
The guys took the RX7 to REVS Performance Rotary and spent the night fixing it, and had it back out on the stage for Saturday morning. The battered RX7 displayed some great speed, leading the 2WD Junior Challenge by over ten minutes at one point and setting top 5 ARC 2WD stage times in the process. Unfortunately their good run came to an end toward the end of Sunday when they ‘became stuck’ on some logs in a particularly muddy patch.
There’s always reason for concern when you pull a plug out and find it looking like this. All they could do was to put a new one in, and just hope that the rest of the electrode had melted into the head and wasn’t making a nuisance of itself. It made the ignition problems all the more intriguing, though. But they still had fun, highlights of their event included being flashed by a female spectator on stage and crossing a flying finish backwards. Fun times, eh?
Anyone who has seen Smee’s 323 up close will realise that he has an attention to detail that is second to none, but I didn’t realise it went this far. After the event, in service park, he actually detailed the Familia, included blacking the tyres.
Usually people tend to drift off toward the end of the field, but this time everybody stayed put until Jeremy had gone past. Browne and the Mini, along with co-driver Naomi Tillett, were undoubtably the highlight of the event for many others as well.
And as for our event chasing the cars around with cameras? We had a blast. We discovered that there’s actually a damn lot of standing water in Kuitpo forest which makes for wet feet when you’re hurriedly trailblazing through the forest and accidentally step into four inches of freezing water. Twice. Mark Williams (above) had it worse though – when you’re looking at his photos from the water splash, just remember that he got completely soaked to the bone to get those photos, and his vocal swearing led me to believe it was mighty uncomfortable once the wind picked up a bit. Note how the media tabard is almost see through – the rally version of a wet t-shirt contest but far less appealing.
While I was hunting through the scrub trying to find a different angle I came across one of James Rodda’s spotlight covers. As it turns out he lost this in the 2010 Kutipo Forest Rally and it’s been there ever since!
Another highlight sadly came at the expense of Neal Bates and Coral Taylor’s rally. Their high revving Celica RA40’s engine destroyed itself just down the road from where we were standing, so we ended up with another spectator for a little while. It was great to hear Neal talk about the car and rallying in general, and despite being a demon behind the wheel he’s actually just a really nice guy who loves his motorsport and his old Toyota’s. Mark is a mad Toyota nut, and couldn’t quite believe his luck for a moment there.
Where the championship heads to from here for round 5 is a little up in the air. Due to the trouble in getting roads in the Adelaide Hills Council area for Rally SA, the Kuitpo forest stages were instead used at the expense of the planned round 5, the Kuitpo Forest Rally. Whatever happens, Any Given Reason will publish the information about this new event as soon as it comes to hand.
This is just a selection of the photos taken – email firstname.lastname@example.org for samples of your car.