Preparing for a wet (and snowy?) Rally of South Australia – 1st -3rd August

ROSA_2014_Recce (17)This was pretty much going to be just a post with a few links to maps and the spectator guide for this weekend’s Rally of South Australia, round three of the South Australian Rally Championship and round four of the Australian Rally Championship. But that would have been pretty boring, right? Luckily Henry Nott and the NOTTRacing crew stepped up and invited Any Given Reason to their Wednesday test day, so I strapped in for a sideways blast down the muddy test stage in Henry’s seriously quick little Lancer Evo 6. But more on that in a moment.

ROSA_2014_RecceRally is arguably one of the hardest forms of motorsport to take photos of because you can’t just simply rock up and start shooting. Before you even get to thinking about camera gear and knowing how to use it, you need to be in the right place at the right time. And with literally hundreds of competitive kilometers stretching the entire Adelaide Hills over just three days, you can’t be everywhere at once.

ROSA_2014_Recce (26)The only real way to do it is to drive the entire course beforehand and make educated guesses about which spots will deliver the results. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you mess it up completely, but at the end of the day that’s half the fun. So with the competitors out there completing their recce and writing their pacenotes, we grabbed a forestry key to the Mount Crawford Forest and joined them in my WRX to go have a look. Continue reading

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Michael Busby’s RX7 FC3S gravel rally car

DSC_0014Do it once, do it properly. This simple combination of six words is often thrown about nonchalantly when choosing a path to take and implies that whilst the easiest and cheapest route may seem attractive at first, in the long run it is always better to do something properly the first time, and need never do it again. Do it once, do it properly has quality at its core, be it the parts selected or the time and energy invested into the physical work.

DSC_0061Cars, especially competition vehicles, that are built with this ethos are usually quite special; their owners’ pursuit of perfection often produces a result much greater than the sum of its parts, no matter how special those parts may be.

DSC_0610And so it is with Michael Busby’s Series 5 FC3S Mazda RX7 gravel rally car. Before my ride I knew it was a special car with some special parts, and it certainly felt that way as we whined, burbled and brapped our way through the quiet Sunday afternoon backstreets heading away from Busby’s workshop.

DSC_0149But as we turned onto Montacute road and at precisely the point where urban sprawl miraculously morphs into undisturbed bushland and the tarmac becomes deliciously twisty, the RX7 transformed into something that instantly smashed every preconception I had. The turbine like smoothness and linearity of the power delivery, the rapid-fire gearshifts and the way that the MCA 50mm adjustable suspension, still in full gravel setup, felt so safe and planted had me speechless, emitting girlish giggles of disbelief that only grew with every passing kilometre. It was that much fun. Continue reading

Scouts Rally SA – Australian Rally Championship round 4

Eli Evans and Glen Weston have maintained their dominance in the 2WD Australian Rally Championship to claim victory at Scouts Rally SA in their G2 spec Honda Jazz. Despite a strong push from local hero Jack Monkhouse, Evans held on to extend his lead in the 2WD national championship.

The experienced husband and wife pairing of Simon and Sue Evans cruised to second place in the debut outing for the new Rallyschool Mazda 2. The car showed exceptional pace throughout the event and was a serious challenger to the Jazz of Simon’s brother, Eli. This really is a remarkable effort because despite its looks, the Mazda isn’t actually a factory backed car – it was developed and built by Mick Ryan and the privateer team at Rallyschool. For it to be up challenging for an outright win in its first event speaks volumes of the thought and skill that went into its preparation.

Third place was earned by the second Jazz G2 of Mark Pedder and Claire Ryan, which was a momentous occasion for two reasons. The first is that this was Claire’s first ARC podium, and the second is that this is the first time that the entire podium was taken by cars from the new G2 class.  Continue reading

International Rally of Queensland – The Classics

Classic rallying in Australia is becoming more and more popular, especially with the addition of a national classic championship that now forms part of the ARC. Rally fans, both old and young, are channelling their heroes and building up the cars of their dreams like never before.

Why the sudden explosion of popularity? Well, to be brutally honest – modern rally cars are a little boring, a little sanitised. Even lower spec cars are so competent these days that they aren’t as much fun to drive as they used to be, and certainly aren’t as spectacular to watch. Going fast is all a little too easy. And when it does go wrong, you’re travelling that much faster and you’re that much more committed that it really hurts.

Classic rallying really boils it back down to the basics. No computers, no major sponsors, no sheep stations on the line. Just the sound of highly tuned old school engines chucking big slides in the forest. At the end of the day, that’s what we come for, right? Continue reading

2012 International Rally of Queensland

Australian Chris Atkinson has won the International Rally of Queensland, Round 3 of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship held in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland from 25-27 May. In a stunning drive behind the wheel of his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000, Atkinson and Belgian co-driver Stephane Prevot finished some 3 minutes and 57 seconds ahead of their nearest rival Alistar McRae. In the process Atkinson took out the Pacific Cup, and extended his lead in the overall Asia Pacific Championship.

McRae and co-driver Bill Hayes drove a fine event in their Proton Satria Neo S2000. Whilst they simply couldn’t match the pace of Atkinson, McRae never put a foot wrong throughout the three day event and drove around a misfiring problem to hold on to second place.

The final place on the APRC podium was taken by Kiwi’s Brian Green and Fleur Pederson driving a Lancer Evo IX.

Fourth place was taken by the man with the coolest name in rallying, Per-Gunnar Andersson, also behind the wheel of a Satria Neo S2000. P.G and co-driver Emil Axelsson chased hard all weekend, finishing less than a minute behind the Evo of Green. Continue reading

Scouts Rally of South Australia, 29-31 July 2011 – Sunday

For Sunday of ROSA I made a challenging pilgrimage along with another couple of photographers to the spoon drain at the start of the 8 Ways stage, SS9. It was a very difficult section of road that competitors either treated very gently or right on the edge. There were a few close calls and the odd roo hopping around the place to spice things up. Other images come from Mt Pleasant service, SS14 Mt Crawford 2 and the podium presentation.

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Scouts Rally of South Australia, 29-31 July 2011 – Saturday

I was really looking forward to getting out for RallySA, and it didn’t disappoint. The weather was fine, the early starts meant I had the true privilege of witnessing a spectacular sunrise from a deserted country road in the Barossa Valley and driving the dirt roads to get to the stages was a joy. Saturdays photos come from SS1 Tweeden 1, SS5 Mawsons Row and SS8 Mt Crawford 1.

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