The AGR garage has had a shakeup, with the old MX5 replaced by an old WRX.
It all began back on Australia day (late January for our international friends) when an old high school friend phoned and invited me along on a day of kayaking he had planned. I hadn’t taken my kayak out in years and had been meaning to for a while, so I excitedly made my way to the shed and began removing it from the rafters.
Until I finished dusting the forlorn kayak off, it had somehow escaped my consideration that with my Fiat X1/9 still in a state of restoration disassembly and an NA Mazda MX5 as my daily wheels, I didn’t actually have any method of transporting the vessel. I studied my MX5 and its roll bar carefully, it becoming like one of those team-building problems so favored by corporate learning facilitators on office training excursions. With no apparent way of affixing the kayak to the MX5, and no tea break filled with dull coffee and Scotch Fingers to escape to, I was forced to call up and cancel my attendance at the kayaking trip.
In four years of ownership, this was the first time I had ever admitted defeat. That MX5 has carried road bikes, complete sets of wheels, large rolls of plastic sheeting, a Fiat engine block and even a gearbox or two. But the kayak was not to be.
I sat lazily in front of the television that night with my girlfriend Chantelle, and with a bottle of wine cracked we put on a Top Gear special for some mindless entertainment. And it was there, watching Hammond sliding that old world rally blue Bug-Eye WRX hatch through the wilds of Africa, that the mind-cogs began to turn. After Chantelle went to bed I stayed up late that night scouring Carsales in detail. It turned out that old Rexes were actually a lot cheaper than I expected. Uh-oh.
The fascination with Rexes wasn’t completely fresh, mind you, as I was a wide-eyed ten-year-old at the height of WRX madness in the late 90’s. I spent hours watching replays of ARC rounds I’d taped from channel 10’s RPM program, where Cody Crocker would slide his Group N GC8 to endless third-places behind the WRC spec weapons of Possum Bourne and Neal Bates. I cheered them in person with excitement at the local Coopers Pale Ale Rally SA. I made my Dad take me to Eblens Subaru to collect sales brochures, and then tried to convince my elderly grandpa to buy a WRX when he was shopping for a new car. I even read about the modifications the Osman Brothers were pioneering in Hot 4’s magazine. At $40,000 the WRX was the ‘performance bargain of the century’ in 1999, but as a penniless kid still six years away from possessing even a drivers license they might as well have been a million dollars. They were out of reach. Continue reading →
Scouts Rally SA once again returned to the Mount Crawford Forest and the northern hills over the weekend of August 1-3 for three heats of intense gravel rally action on some of South Australia’s most challenging roads.
Taking the outright event win and victory in round four of the Australian Rally Championship was Scott Pedder and Dale Moscatt in the Walkinshaw Performance prepared Renault Sport Clio R3. The pairing narrowly claimed victory in all three heats which was enough to snatch the lead of the ARC.
Claiming second place was Brendon Reeves and Rhiannon Gelsomino in the quick little G2 Mazda 2. It was a close battle for much of the event however the Mazda 2 was struck with problems, including non functioning windscreen wipers in heavy rain and the loss of a rear wheel on SS20 when the studs broke, forcing Reeves to tripod back to service. Reeves was able to match the pace of Pedder when everything was working correctly, but these niggling problems kept him down at this crucial point in the championship. With two rounds remaining, Pedder managed to snatch the championship lead. Continue reading →
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.
Rally 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.
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 →
Longtime Any Given Reason readers will be familiar with Guy Standen and his 1974 Fiat 124 Sport tarmac rally car. With a couple of Targa Tasmania’s already to his name, I stepped into the co-drivers seat and did Classic Targa Adelaide in 2011 and Targa Adelaide in 2012 with Guy. We had a blast, the 124 performed faultlessly, sounded fantastic and in both years we walked away with Targa plates for beating the base time on all of the special stages. Those two events were fantastic experiences that I’ll never forget.
After that last Targa in 2012 the 124 sat dormant; I was traveling overseas last year and it wasn’t practical to come home for Targa Adelaide 2013, and Guy made the logical decision to retire from competition and sell the 124. He’d already achieved everything he wanted and had developed it as far as possible, a Fiat Dino road car restoration was slowly peculating in the background and he wanted to spend more time with his family. It was a tough decision but the 124 was sold into Sydney and now resides with some enthusiastic Fiat club members who are gearing up for their first Targa Tasmania in 2015.
Over the past few months Guy and I have been talking about future rally cars, but I hadn’t taken any of our discussions terribly seriously until I logged onto Facebook one morning to find a message waiting for me: ‘Would you be interested in doing a Targa Tasmania?’ What!? You can’t ask a question like that with no explanation, so I got straight on the phone to discover that Guy was a little more serious about getting back into the game than I thought. His ‘retirement’ had lasted exactly three and a half months. Continue reading →
In a shock and completely unexpected result, Damian Reed has won the 2014 Robertstown Rally, round two of the South Australian Rally Championship, in his Mazda 121. Well… not quite. But his efforts in gallantly tackling this creek crossing which formed part of a rally postponed due to bad weather and impassable stage conditions surely deserves some kind of award.
Apocalyptic conditions were forecast for the rally and the few days before it, and we prepared with boot fulls of wet weather gear, jumpers and rain covers for the cameras. To be honest it was almost a bit of a letdown when photographer Mark Williams and myself arrived at Robertstown on Friday afternoon to discover dry roads, dust and almost zero mud on our recce. The sun was even out.
But as the sun dipped below the horizon and the ambient dropped even further a visible storm front approached bringing howling winds and rain. Lots of rain. As we sat around the bar of the Robertstown Pub that evening the much mooted storm front hit and stayed until daybreak. A lot of us were camping in the clubrooms of the Robertstown footy club that night and almost everyone was woken at some point by the rains. It was torrential.
It was a little odd when at around 8am the organisers declared the rally postponed because the weather didn’t seem that bad. It was hardly raining, but the damage was done. Continue reading →
There’s an undeniable attraction to long distance rallying. Combining motorsport and travel with the adventure and challenge that comes with rallying every day for over a month, the opportunity to compete in an event like the Sydney-London is a once in a lifetime opportunity. When it passed through South Australia’s Barossa Valley recently, Any Given Reason just had to get out and see it.
The Sydney-London is mooted as a reverse direction re-run of the famous London-Sydney rallies of 1968 and 1971, the likely never to be seen again pinnacles of long distance competition. Unfortunately the modern interpretation is far from the original, but that’s more a sign of the world we live in than anything else. The 1968 original raced through Turkey to Iran stopping in Tehran, through Afghanistan stopping in Kabul, and through Pakistan to Delhi. The route then traveled through India to Bombay (now Mumbai), where the cars boarded a boat to Perth. The Middle East is a stunning part of the world but sadly these days it’s more renowned for war and violence than anything else, and the thought of running a car rally through some of those countries seems vaguely laughable right now.
Hopefully in our lifetimes we’ll see these countries politically stable enough to host a car rally, but that isn’t the case right now so for 2014 the Sydney-London flies over that part of the world. Legs 1 & 2 last for 12 days and sees the competitors travel 7750km from Sydney to Perth, with 33 timed Special Stages (1133 competitive km). After an airlift the rally resumes in Ankara (Turkey) with 6000km through Europe comprising Leg 3 to Rijeka, and then Leg 4 with some classic stages through Wales on the way to the London finish. Continue reading →
The Sydney – London Classic Marathon is passing through South Australia over the next few days, so to prepare Any Given Reason went and had a look at what is sure to be one of the front running contenders – the Datsun 260Z of Geoff Olholm and John Doble.
Note – keep reading for leg maps and stage times for the South Australian stages
Longtime Any Given Reason readers will be familiar with Olholm and his Coconut Car Racing Team – AGR checked out the Rally Raid Desert Warrior he used in the 2011 Dakar Rally, and followed his 2013 Dakar Rally campaign where he was first privateer and 11th outright in an Overdrive built V8 Hilux.
Like all of Olholm’s cars, the 260Z has been prepared for the rally in the Adelaide workshop of Garry Kirk. It looks like your regular gravel rally Z-car, but with a few minor additions for both strength and reliability.
The 260Z isn’t new to the world of marathon rallies, having been previously used in the 2009 East African Safari Classic Rally. It has received a complete teardown rebuild since then, and is in stunning shape. Continue reading →
You don’t need to say it because I can already hear the calls. ‘Hunting exotic cars in Monaco, that’s a little bit like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?’
Well, yes it is. But that’s no reason not to do it. I mean, what else are you going to do in Monaco? Unless you’re the kind of person who is happily granted entry to the Hotel de Paris or you’re a diehard Formula One anorak, there’s no real reason to come here other than to witness obscene wealth of others. It does have a certain charm, but Monaco doesn’t really offer anything that can’t be found elsewhere on the French Riviera.
However like most readers of Any Given Reason I’m into cars and boats and rally and Formula One, so Monaco was a must-see destination while recently traveling around the Riviera. And the cool thing about not giving a damn about obscene wealth is that I had no issue with attempting to fit in or looking like a tourist, which meant I had no issue with taking photos of the cars.
Because lets be honest – taking photos of nice cars parked on the street is probably the most un-cool thing you can possibly do. But I like interesting cars, so whatever.
The heart of Monaco and the centre of its ‘supercar barrel’ is Casino Square, the tourist filled block of land that acts as the valet area for the most opulent and exclusive hotels and casinos in the Principality. Continue reading →
Co-driving in a proper gravel rally car is a whole lot of fun but it’s not always the easiest seat in the house to get. There’s plenty of rides to be had if you’re good enough but you’ve gotta work your way up from the bottom over many seasons, and a lot of the hire cars out there tend to be fairly well used up.
As a result a lot of rally fans and the friends and family of competitors don’t actually know what it feels like to be strapped in and sliding through a gravel corner sideways at speed. James Rodda of Rallypower Motorsport and Lewis & Sarah Parin of Cupcake Crumbz/ Velocity Racing are well aware of this so decided to organise a rides day to raise money for two charities that sit close to their hearts.
The formula was simple. They chose a venue (Lanac Park, close to Mount Compass in the state’s South) where the cars could get some speed up and be flung around without risk of hitting anything too solid. They convinced a couple of other drivers to come down and give rides too, and asked a bunch of officials to volunteer their time to run the day. They found some generous sponsors to cover the costs of putting the day on, and they organised and marketed the event themselves. Continue reading →
Finland is and always has been the Grand Daddy of rallying. The spiritual home; Mecca for those of us who prefer our motorsport sideways through the forests and gravel roads of the world.
Since the 60’s the 1000 Lakes Rally, now known as Neste Oil Rally Finland, has been the crown jewel in the WRC calendar. So if you’re going to see a WRC event, this is the one to see, right? Well at least that’s the vague theory that caused me to venture as far north on this planet as I’ve ever been before to see some bloke’s with funny names drive small hatchbacks way too quickly through some trees. Put like that it seems like a bit of a daft endeavor, but it was anything but.
For the first time on my little tour, I wasn’t alone. It actually all started on an infamous evening; Saturday 24th of November 2012. After the Southern Districts Car Club go kart night back in Adelaide, Australia, Patrick Chan (left) and myself (right) were discussing our respective upcoming trips to Europe when we realized we’d both be there at the same time. Rather than meet up at some generic bar or tourist hotspot, we checked the WRC calendar and decided that Finland was as good a place as any. Later that night we would of course go on to purchase 2Festi and race it the next day and the rest is history, but the Finland seed was planted. Further conversation a few weeks later revealed that our mutual friend, David Rudzitis (middle), would also be in Europe at the same time. Such serendipity! Eight and a half months later, three Australian rally fans were converging on the Finnish city of Jyväskylä from three very different directions.
The first thing that needs to be said about Rally Finland is that it is, without fail, the most spectator friendly rally I’ve ever been to. As the most famous WRC event with arguably the highest speeds I was expecting the spectator access to be pretty poor. And having to spend 65 euro on day 1 to buy a pass to see any of the stages or service park initially confirmed my expectations.
But once you buy that 65 euro Rally Pass you have full and complete access to the event. In Australia you usually avoid the designated spectator points because they restrict what you can do, but not in Finland. Over here a spectator point means you can still watch from where you like, but you have decent food stalls, a bar, toilets and car parking. Continue reading →