2017 Forest Rally – Thrills and Spills

In late April we took a team of six cars to seaside town of Busselton for round two of the WA Rally Championship. The Make Smoking History Forest Rally is the biggest event on the calendar, spanning nearly three days. It is a round of Australian Rally Championship which attracts some interstate teams as well.

Post Kin Kin Rally

After the Kin Kin rally at the end of March we had a couple of damaged cars. We had our work cut out repairing the rolled Fiesta for Ben and Chris. Unfortunately Neil & Dannielle’s Excel was a write off after collecting a stump and they officiated the Forest instead. Rejoining our team was Rohan with new co-driver Jon in their WRX wagon. Brad was back with stand in co-driver Taran alongside in their 2dr WRX. Father and son Mark and Damon brought out the Celica GT4 for another run and Lance and Jace entered Clubman in their Nissan Silvia. Geoff and Paul had also burned the midnight oil after Kin Kin and replaced the engine and transmission in their Nissan Sil80.


Pre Event

The teams completed pace notes on Thursday and Friday before the rally whilst we sorted the last minute items on the cars. The forecast showed rain and thunderstorms that would have made the dry dusty roads muddy. It was shaping up to be an interesting event.

Heat 1

Friday evening the rally kicked off with a short tarmac super special stage on the Busselton foreshore. Everyone came through unscathed and any nerves were settled ready for the morning.

In Nannup on Saturday morning we greeted our cars as they transported from the overnight parc ferme. A short service gave us time to remove lights and swap rubber before they headed out for the gravel stages. Geoff and Paul were having trouble with the rear brakes binding and we tinkered to see if we could sort it.

The drama begins

The weather held out and the roads were dry and loose for Heat 1. Not far into Saturday’s stages Geoff and Paul were again struggling with the rear brakes. Also the gearbox was giving trouble jamming in fifth.  Ben and Chris had a moment and beached the Fiesta on the inside of a corner. There was no damage however they had to be recovered by the sweeper. Lance and Jace came to grief on the slippery surface. Only two stages in the pair lightly rolled their Silvia. The car was stuck too far off the road to recover it and they had the first ever DNF.

Our score card was looking grim as Heat 1 progressed. Ben and Chris had dropped stages, Lance/Jace  were out and Geoff/Paul were struggling. We managed to free the gears and rear brakes for Geoff hoping for a better run in the afternoon. Then we received another text. Rohan and Jon had rolled the WRX wagon. Both were ok, however the car had taken a beating.

Heat 1 complete

By the end of heat 1 Brad/Taran and Mark/Damon were our only guys to have a trouble free run. Ben and Chris also finished the day on a high note, without further troubles. Geoff and Paul were plum out of luck. The Sil80 had blown a turbo gasket and had no boost, dropping power. We fitted the spare turbo at the last service and hoped for a better second heat.

Heat 2

Our four remaining cars started well on the tarmac on Saturday night. Clean runs and no problems put us in good stead for Sunday. The following morning the first service was uneventful and all headed out for the gravel.

Gremlins continue

Soon enough Geoff and Paul had no boost again. Once back in service we discovered the spare turbo had seized. Without enough time to fix the problem, the guys had to soldier on well down on power. For the rest of the team Sunday was a dream run and services were routine.

The Finish Line

After 220km of competition and 19 stages, the finish ramp was a welcome sight. Brad/Taran, Mark/Damon and Ben/Chris had great fun. Geoff and Paul also finished and despite mechanical gremlins, the car was unscathed.

The next event is the Boddington Rally in early June.


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