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

OZGymkhana series – Gymkhana1

It takes a dedicated group of individuals to organise a motorsport event, and a lot more goes on behind the scenes than any spectator or competitor usually realises. What’s even more amazing is when a group of volunteers decide to run a completely new type of event that’s never been run before. In addition to the usual myriad of organisational tasks, there are a few other hurdles that need to be overcome such as finding a location, finding a way to fit it within the event structures of governing bodies (ie CAMS), and last but not least, actually convincing competitors and spectators to come.

The team at Ultimate Motorsport Events (and the Southern Districts Car Club) are no strangers to staging impressive events – the Mt Alma Mile hillclimb and Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally form their annual portfolio, so they were the perfect group of volunteers to run the first ever OZGymkhana event.

UME make no secret that they got the idea for OZGymkhana from the famous Ken Block Gymkhana practise videos, and the event was borne from the thinking that it would be pretty cool to run an event like that in Adelaide. The team picked Tailem Bend Motorsport Park (the old Mitsubishi testing and proving grounds) as the ideal location because of its mix of a long runway, skidpad and several curving access and test roads.

OZGymkhana runs on the principles of traditional bitumen motorkhana; you go from a standing start, navigate a series of obstacles and then finish when you come to a complete stop at the finish line. You are penalised by a few seconds for hitting cones, or penalised quite heavily for a ‘Wrong Direction’, ie going the wrong way through the test. The competitor with the fastest accumulated time after all tests is declared the winner. Continue reading

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

South Australian Rally Championship 2012 Season Launch

It seems like just a few months ago that we were at Jarvis Subaru, launching the 2011 rally season with great anticipation. A lot has happened in the past twelve months in the rally world – new events, new cars, old favourites and a battle for the championship that came right down to the last stage of the year at Kuitpo. There’s no less anticipation this year, in fact there’s possibly even more with a whole range of new cars and competitors, a new event and the national shift toward 2WD cars. The 2012 launch night was a good kick off, and gave a really interesting insight into what we can look forward to in the coming months.

There are quite a few interesting cars coming out for the championship. The one I’m probably most excited about is Jeremy Browne’s Mini Cooper S. Continue reading

Lunch at Yea – Tarmac Rally STI

So there we were having lunch in the small country Victorian town of Yea (cue 50cent) when what pulls in to a parking space in the town park? A full tarmac rally prepped STI. Well it wasn’t quite as serendipitous as it sounds – we were on our way back to Melbourne from Targa High Country, and Yea is only a couple of hours from Mt Buller, where THC was run.  But still, a racecar sighting in a country town is worthy, and big ups to the guy for street driving it that far home from the event.

Kuitpo Forest Rally 2011 – Scruitineering

So I went down tonight to check out scruitineering for the Kuitpo Forest Rally. The event is the fourth and final round of the South Australian Rally Championship, and it’s shaping up to be a cracker of an event. There are theoretically 5 guys who could walk away with a state championship under their arms.

I’ll be co-driving in the 0B course car, a bright orange GC8 WRX STI. Unfortunately this means I won’t really be out with the camera, so tonight at S&J was my only real shot to take some photo’s. Actually I take back the ‘unfortunately’ comment. As much as I love shooting, helmeting up and having a go on the special stage is always more fun 🙂

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