Rally Rides for a Reason

DSC_0563Co-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.

DSC_0104As 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.

DSC_0349The 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

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Rally Wattle Range 2013 – SARC Round 1

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James Rodda and Dave Langfield have won Rally Wattle Range, the first round of the South Australian Rally Championship held recently on April 26-27 in the South East region of South Australia. In a tough event where simply finishing was an achievement in itself, Rodda came through to claim his maiden victory by over two minutes and took maximum championship points over the diverse set of stages.

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The pairing of Michael and David Krichauff drove a consistent yet fast event to claim a solid second place outright in their class P5 Subaru.

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The final place on the podium went to the Galant VR4 of Mt Gambier locals Paul Heenan and Andrew Kreisl. It was expected that local knowledge would certainly play into the hands of the Galant’s of locals Heenan and Brown, and this was certainly the case.

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In a fantastic effort considering it was their first ever rally in a new car, Jamie Pohlner and Ben Judd claimed fourth place in the ex Sam Brand GC8 Subaru. This must have been a special result for the crew, because other than two khanacross events earlier in the year, this was their first serious event.

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The top five was rounded out by Barry and Helen Lowe in the thundering VB Commodore. This is fast becoming a very popular car on the national historic rally circuit, and Barry has stepped it up to a whole new level for 2013. The old Holden V8 (itself a wild motor) is out, replaced by a Nascar spec Chev V8. I was told that this engine arrived from the US producing over 800hp, and that Barry has tuned it down to a more reliable 550 for gravel work. It has that spine tingling high pitched wail that is only produced by very seriously tuned race engines, and throws massive rooster tails of dust and rocks wherever it goes. Continue reading

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

Walky Stages Rally – SARC Round 5

The DNA Rallysport crew of Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams have won the Walky Stages Rally, claiming their third South Australian Rally Championship in the process. Competing over the fast and marbly roads in the Truro area an hour north of Adelaide, the crew overcame early crank angle sensor problems to convincingly win the nine stage long event.

The Rally Power Motorsport team of James Rodda and Claire Ryan were once again struck with their mystery misfire issues that have plagued them at previous events, but managed to hold on to second place throughout the event, also earning them second outright in the championship. It was a crushing blow for James and Claire, as after over 6 hours of problem diagnosis and tuning on the dyno at Graham West Workshop in the week prior to the event, they really thought they had finally found and fixed the problem.

Simon and Yvette West had an excellent result to claim their first ever podium, finishing the event in third outright position.

Past Australian rally champion Barry Lowe, co-driven by Helen Lowe, claimed fourth outright and first in the Classic class in their thundering VB Commodore. I think I’ve said this after every event, but the rumbling V8 under the bonnet of this thing sounds incredibly mean, and when on the special stage it seems to be in a perpetual state of wheelspin and sideways action, throwing up big rooster tails of dirt and rocks. No complaints from me!

And as expected, Barry needs a considerable supply of fresh Michelin gravel tyres to sustain all that sideways action. Yes, Barry actually brings more sets of rear tyres than stages to events! Continue reading

Round 5 of the SARC has been announced – the 2012 Walky Stages Rally

Saturday 27th October – save the date. The fifth and final round of the 2012 South Australian Rally Championship has been announced, the 2012 Walky Stages Rally. Held around the Truro area, the rally will be a joint effort between the Walkerville All Cars Club and the Southern Districts Car Club.

Information is still a little scarce, but Any Given Reason is told that the organisers are currently negotiating roads with the council who are very amicable toward the event. More information, including supp regs, will be released on the Walkerville All Cars Club website as soon as they come to hand.

So why the last minute change? The recently held Scouts Rally SA ARC round had a few difficulties in obtaining road closures from the Adelaide Hills Council, so it was decided that the Kuitpo Forest Rally (the original round 5) should be sacrificed so that Rally SA could use the roads in Kuitpo forest. The Walkerville All Cars Club was already in the stages of planning a smaller Clubman championship round near Truro, so it was decided that this event would be further developed into a full state championship round.

I’m looking forward to it. See you on the 27th!

 

Scouts Rally SA – Round 4 of the South Australian Rally Championship

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.  Continue reading

2012 Copyworld Walky 100 Robertstown

Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams have raced to a narrow victory in the 2012 Copyworld Walky 100 at Robertstown, round 3 of the 2012 South Australian Rally Championship. Driving his recently purchased Lancer Evo 6 for only the second time, Dwyer fought hard over the entire 12 daylight and nighttime special stages to claim victory by just ten seconds.

Finally breaking their reliability curse, James Rodda and Claire Ryan put in a strong, consistent effort to earn second place on the podium.

Despite looking blisteringly quick, double state champions Russell Marker and Karien Heimsohn finished exactly two minutes behind Dwyer and Adams to claim third position.

Fourth outright and first in the Classic class was Barry and Helen Lowe in the VB Commodore. This thing just has to be witnessed in person – it seems to be in a constant state of opposite lock, the powerful V8 throwing big rooster tails of rocks and dust in its wake. It does help that Barry knows how to drive it fairly well. Continue reading