Rally Action at the 2015 Darling 200

The last rally of the season, the Darling 200 broke a few records. First there was a field of 38 entries, a big number for the 2WD only rally based around Jarrahdale, southwest of Perth. Second the weather hit a scorching 39◦ and third we had seven cars in the rally, with two of those making their rallying debut.
Geoff & Paul brought their Nissan Sil80 out, fresh with new engine management that promised to eliminate misfiring and spark plug issues that had plagued them for most of the year. Andrew & Jess were up next with their Honda Civic. If the cards stacked up the right way, they were in with a chance at a podium finish in the Clubman Cup. After damage at the Safari Rally the previous month, Rohan had worked hard to repair his Galant and have it ready for the Darling. With new co-driver Nigella alongside, the pair were looking for a good result to round out the year. Next in line were Lance and Jace. Lance was entering his first event with his new Nissan Silvia that we’d been building for the last few months. Rounding out the 2WD’s in our team, Neil and Dannielle lined up in their Hyundai Excel Twin Cam. Building on a successful run in the Safari with Brad’s new WRX STi, he and son Richard prepared for the eight stages ahead. This was the first time that Richard had laid eyes on the car, let alone sat in it and he was going to find out that an AWD Turbo Subaru went a lot quicker than a Toyota Yaris! The seventh crew in our team were also on their first event. Mark and son Damon were keen to test out their Celica GT4, soon they’d all get their chance.
Unlike all other rallies in the championship, the Darling does not allow for pace noting. It meant that all competitors were Nissan Sil80 rally car crashed Darling 200relying on the organiser supplied road book for route instructions. Before the rally started, we’d all been warned at the driver’s briefing that some stages of the rally were rougher than usual and the roads were slippery. Typical of the area, many stages had very narrow sections and the margin for error was nearly zero.
It was less than 5km into the first stage that two of our team found out how tricky the conditions were. First Geoff and Paul went off and collected a stump. The damage to the right front of the Nissan was substantial and they were out for the day. Mark and Damon went past Geoff’s incident and then a few hundred metres up the road collected the right rear wheel of the Celica heavily on a tree and retired with broken suspension. It wasn’t the most auspicious start and the dramas for the day weren’t over yet.Toyota Celica rally car crashed Darling 200
Lance and Jace got the Silvia beached on the outside of a corner on stage four losing a few minutes and Brad/Richard got the WRX stuck in the same place after the former had got themselves out. The WRX was also recovered and continued.
Rohan/Nigella were the next to have troubles, however it wasn’t due to their driving. The Galant’s throttle cable had snapped. A quick call to us in the service park and the solution was provided. Removing all the laces from their race boots, the pair tied them together and then around the carburettor linkage, actuating WRX rally car sideways Darling 200the throttle by hand out of the window. It was enough to get them back to service where we could affect more permanent repairs.
The Darling had one more trick up its sleeve for our team. Within 2km of the finish of the last stage, Brad & Richard picked up a puncture. They stopped to change the tyre and whilst working away the engine cut out, refusing to restart. With no engine power, the WRX had to be towed back to service and the pair were forced to retire. The problem was later traced to faulty engine management.
After eight special stages in the hot and dusty conditions, four of our seven cars finished the event. RohanDarling 200 Hyundai Excel rally car and Nigella did get to the end, however the lost minutes earlier meant they were out of time and not counted in the results. Lance & Jace’s lost time in SS4 dropped them well down in the results, however on all other stages they were in or close to the top ten. Without the problem, they would have finished eighth, an outstanding result for a first ever competitive event. Neil and Dannielle had a smooth day, keeping it neat on the challenging roads. The pair finished the rally on the podium, taking second place in the 2WD challenge section of the event. Andrew and Jess charged as hard as they dared on the Darling. At the finish they had taken the Civic to fourth place outright. It wasn’t quite enough for Andrew to secure third placed Clubman driver for the year, however Jess took 3rd placed Clubman co-driver.

If you’d like to get into rally driving, you can find plenty of information here

Here’s the video review of the Darling 200.

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