2020 Safari Darling rally

Let’s get rocking and rolling with the 2020 Safari Darling Rally. The last round of the 2020 WA state rally championship took us to Jarrahdale just south of Perth. This event was really a really a rebadged Darling 200 rally that has run in the same location for many years. Last year the event ran in September and we were out in the forest as officials doing a road closure.

The rally of “Not Ideals”

With a November date this was a rally of “not ideals”. Really it was a bit of a struggle for the organisers to get the 2020 Safari Darling rally over the line. There were quite a few things going on behind the scenes and it reflected on this year’s event.

The 2020 Safari Darling roads

 Last year the September date meant there was plenty of moisture from the early spring weather. The roads held together really well with water to help bind the gravel. Unfortunately Jarrahdale’s surface tends to cut up quite badly if it’s dry. This year with the hot weather the inevitable happened. The roads were loose, there were quite a few rocks in places and it was quite a rough and dusty rally.

Loose and dusty roads on the 2020 Safari Darling rally

Secret Rally

Nonetheless the 2020 Safari Darling Rally was the same for all teams.  Unlike the other championship rounds this year, competitors were not permitted to recce the route before the rally. Instead of using pace notes, teams raced on the  road book only which means the organisers provided the route chart.

Road book events can be great fun and provide a level playing field for all competitors. The key however is to ensure the road book is detailed enough. Unfortunately the road book for the 2020 Safari Darling rally was very basic adding an extra challenge to the event. Some competitors found the road book something to relish, others lacked the skills or experience and were apprehensive.

2020 Safari Darling rally format

 The 2020 Safari Darling rally’s format was three stages, a single service and the same stages repeated before the finish. That was for state championship entrants. Clubman cup had three stages with no service at all. I’ve said in the past I’m not a fan of this format and I think it’s something that needs to be addressed at a championship level.

Having no service particularly for Clubman is not great and only having one service for state championship makes things quite difficult. Luckily the 2020 Safari Darling rally stages were fairly compact and there wasn’t a great deal of liaison distance between the stages and the service park.

Our team at this rally

On this rally we had an all Subaru line up with two cars. Brad and Graham used their WRX and Hugh and Karen ran their WRX. For both crews it was a chance to get one last rally before the end of the year.

Drama out of the blocks

 All the cars lined up and went out for the first group of stages.  It wasn’t far into the 2020 Safari Darling rally that there was a bit of drama. Coming into this event, championship leaders John O’Dowd and Toni Feaver were a chance to clinch the title. Unfortunately on the first stage they rolled their Skoda Fabia R5. The incident put them out of the rally and unfortunately out the championship too. It was a bitter disappointment. Thankfully neither of them were hurt and the car was not seriously damaged.

Servicing a WRX rally car on the 2020 Safari Darling rally

Championship wide open

 The early retirement did mean that the championship was now wide open for two or three other teams and it would be a race to the finish.  After the only service the cars were out again to do the final loop of stages. Some decided to take it a bit easy because the road were conditions were getting worse as the day was progressing. Others however just flattened it and went for broke. The latter approach did bring a few teams unstuck with tyre troubles. Others however seemed to cruise through the 2020 Safari Darling rally without drama.

Our team results

Thankfully for us the 2020 Safari Darling rally had been kind. At the finish line both of our cars came home unscathed from the Jarrahdale event. Brad and Graham brought the silver WRX home in a tidy 12th place. A great finish for Hugh and Karen saw them in ninth place. It was their best result for the year and showed Hugh was coming to grips with 4WD after many years in the rear drive Commodore.

State 2WD championship

Up a couple of spots from our cars in seventh place was Mike Joss and Megan Logue in their S15 Silvia. They weren’t the fastest of the two-wheel drive cars in the 2020 Safari Darling rally however they did win the 2020 state two-wheel drive championship. It was also really good to see a lot of two-wheel drive cars in the top 10 for this event.

2020 Safari Darling rally podium

 Scrolling up further and it was onto the podium places for the 2020 Safari Darling rally. In third place was Craig Rando and Steve Wade in their bugeye WRX. Second place went to Ben Searcy and Jimmy Marquette in their Lancer Evo.

Nail biting win

First place was a bit of a nail-biter. It went to Mike Young and Scott Beckwith in their STI hatchback. The pairing had dramas during the day including putting the car off the road at one point. They were lucky to recover and they managed to win the 2020 Safari Darling rally and with it the 2020 state championship.

Scott Beckwith makes a speech with driver Mike Young after winning the 2020 Safari Darling rally

With an interrupted season this year and some pretty unprecedented stuff it was definitely a bit of a difficult year. We’ve also had some other stuff going on in the background as well which complicated matters. Like many we’ll be glad to see the end of 2020 and look forward to 2021.

What does the future hold?

Where does that leave us in the championship in the future? The provisional calendar is out already for next year so let’s hope that all the rallies run as scheduled. Unfortunately we’ve dropped one from our team now too. After many years of rallying Brad has decided to hang up his helmet and retire. By the time you read this the car will be in the hands of its new owners. No doubt they’ll have plenty of fun rallying on the other side of the country.

 We’ve got a few things in the pipeline for 2021 so we’ll definitely be at rallies. How many we have in our team who knows and we’re certainly going to be running our Khanacross and Rally Sprint events as we have this year.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy and happy festive season and a great new year! Catch you again in 2021!

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