Out with the old and in with the new

GF8_MX5 (4)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.

GF8_MX5 (7)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.

GF8_MX5 (1)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

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Scouts Rally SA 2014

ROSA_2014_Saturday (46)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.

ROSA_2014_Sunday (12)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.

ROSA_2014_Saturday (50)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

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

Guy’s new Tarmac Rally project: The 1964 Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint

2600Longtime 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.

Targa Adelaide Day 4 31 of 39After 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.

2600 (16)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

Walky 100 at Robertstown – SARC Round 2

Robbie 2014 (22)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.

Robbie 2014 (36)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.

Robbie 2014 (35)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.

Robbie 2014 (32)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

Sydney-London Classic Marathon Rally 2014

Syd-Lon2014 (7)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.

Syd-Lon2014 (26)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.

Z_Syd-Lon2014 (3)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

Sydney – London Classic Marathon to pass through SA before Easter

Sydney-London_Prep 1423The 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

Sydney-London_Prep 1414Longtime 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.

Sydney-London_Prep 1430Like 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.

Sydney-London_Prep 1426The 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