2017 Carringtons Safari Rally – Going hard and making History

The lead up

On the Friday before this year’s Safari we wondered whether we’d have all of our team cars in the event. Brad and Roger had gone off the road and through the trees at Kirup four weeks earlier. The damage to the front of the WRX was considerable and the panel beater had taken longer than expected. On the eve of the Safari there was still a long list to complete: Bonnet pins, light pods and wiring, mud flaps, sump guard drilling/fitting, general re-assembly and thorough cleaning. We also needed to load everything and prepare for the rally. Thankfully by 7pm it was all done. It was a long day.

One thing we love about the Safari is the distance from home. It was a nice change not having to leave Friday night and drive for several hours to reach the rally. We headed to Chidlow Saturday morning and began setting up our service area. For this event we were running four cars.

Our Team

Lance and Jace headed our Safari rally team in their S13 Silvia. It was to be their first pace noted event. Mark and Jess were next up in the Celica GT4. They had a trouble free run at Kirup and were looking for a similar result on this rally. Ben and Chris lined up in the Fiesta and Brad and Roger rounded out the quartet in the freshly repaired WRX.

A change is in the wind

In the weeks leading up to the Carringtons Safari Rally the event changed dramatically. Initially 96 km and four special stages lay ahead of teams. By the time Saturday rolled around there were 106km competitive km and five stages. The additions meant re-writing the whole running schedule. In 2016 the whole rally had just one service of eight minutes. This year there were four services of 20 minutes each. In the 26 car field, our four were all very close together. With the new schedule it meant we were servicing for 30 minutes every hour.

The racing

Thankfully nothing went majorly wrong during the rally. The guys were finding the roads rough in places and dusty. Ben and Chris overshot on a couple of corners. One such corner bent the left steering and the spot light bracket. Both were quickly sorted and they headed off to charge again. Brad and Roger lost a bit of time on SS1 with a confusing pace note. In the dark on the last stage a flat tyre dropped them a chunk more time.

Getting them all home

Brad and Roger went on to finish 14th despite their earlier hiccups. Lance and Jace finished 11th, however without a mysterious five second penalty they’d have been tenth. Ben and Chris brought the Fiesta home in ninth. Mark and Jess did exactly as planned and finished eighth. For both crews it was their second top ten finish in as many rallies.

Making History

Aside from our team, the 2017 Carringtons Safari Rally was a history maker. In the last 30 years, state championship titles have been the realm of 4WD Turbo cars. The power, traction and technology a distinct advantage over 2wd vehicles. Or so it was thought. Tom Wilde/Maddie Kirkhouse did the unthinkable this season. In a Honda Civic the pair clinched the 2017 WA state rally championship. The virtually standard, naturally aspirated 2wd car shouldn’t have had chance and yet it won. It goes to show that driving talent and consistency account for a huge amount in rally.

Next Event

The Darling 200 is the final rally of the year. Exclusive for 2WD’s, the event will run in mid November in Jarrahdale.

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