2022 Forest Rally – 3 days of rallying!

Finally after weeks of hard work and preparation the 2022 Forest Rally arrived! This year the event was a round of the Australian Rally Championship, something we haven’t had for the last couple of years because of covid. There was a big field of 67 entries with a whole swag of R5 and AP4 cars thrown into the mix with all the state championship contenders.

Kicking off on the Bunbury Speedway

 Some of our WA entrants decided to enter in ARC at the 2022 Forest Rally which gave a better road position and also allowed them to score points in the Australian Championship. The spectacle of the Friday night Bunbury Super Special Stage was a great event. Really a bit of a leg stretcher and what we call a Mickey Mouse stage at just on 1.5km long. You won’t win a rally on a super special stage but you can certainly lose it.

 Our guys took it pretty easy on the opening stages of the 2022 Forest Rally however some WA teams some were having dramas early.  Craig Wimbridge and Kirsty Moore unfortunately had problems straight out of the box. Their WRX started overheating on stage one. Unfortunately it was a case of déjà vu similar to Bakers Hill and they were out of the event.

Glowing hot!

They weren’t the only ones though. Jack Flanagan co-driven by Murray Hines had problems in their WRX rally car. The handbrake jammed on in the first stage and the brake rotors were glowing bright red. The rear brakes were cooked and they had plenty to sort out before they went on with the rest of the 2022 Forest Rally.

 Opening night issues weren’t limited to state championship competitors. In the ARC there was a bit of trouble as well. Harry Bates broke a tailshaft in his Yaris AP4 rally car and Aaron Windus broke a driveshaft and damaged a gearbox. The 2022 Forest Rally was shaping up to be a dramatic event…

Friday night we ran five of our team cars in the 2022 Forest Rally and had no major dramas. Our sixth Glen and Max opted not to compete on Friday night in their Excel rally car. Instead they started Saturday morning with a time penalty.

After the four stages were over on Friday night in Bunbury all the rally cars were thrown on the trailer. It was a late night running the cars back to Nannup to be ready for the first full day of the 2022 Forest Rally.

The real rally begins

Continuing with Heat one of the 2022 Forest Rally on Saturday morning and it dawned bright and clear. We got into it very early in the morning setting up the service park and getting everything ready to go. Thankfully there was no rain on the horizon. We cooked up a breakfast of champions with bacon and eggs for everyone to fire them up for the day.

Hugh and Karen were the first out on the stages and they were a bit apprehensive. Recce had been muddy and slippery and the organisers had to shorten the route (by about 13 pages!) due to weather.

It’s not all about speed

It wasn’t a bad idea to take it easy on the early 2022 Forest Rally roads. Folly North had copped plenty of wet weather and the ARC cars had dug it up in a few places. Dale Faulkner and Rachel Ferrante were only on their second event in their GD WRX. The pair determined to be vying for a high placing and had started a hard charge from stage one on Friday night. Folly would change their fate for the rally and perhaps the rest of the season.

Coming into a right hand corner hot, the WRX drifted wide collecting something on the outside edge. The speed and slippery road quickly spun the car into the ditch nose first. The 2022 Forest Rally had claimed its first WARC victim. Thankfully everybody was okay. The car however….

Slippery!

All the other five cars in our team started the 2022 Forest Rally in order. All were having the same issue: Traction. There was definitely plenty of debate about it at the first service. The comments were the same regardless of the car. It was very slippery!

Damien and Gaetan were at the head of our trio of clubman cars. They were having a ball, the Lancer’s gearbox not so much. There was a gear selection problem that had started Friday night and it wasn’t any better by the first service Saturday. It would be a day of mechanical preservation.

The sunny day of heat 1 of the 2022 Forest Rally was helping to dry the roads out. The speeds were increasing and some competitors were wowing the crowds at one of the spectator points. Several cars got plenty of air leaping from a sharp uphill left onto a wider road.

 Steve and Jon had a good start to the 2022 Forest Rally. Jon (who normally navigates for Tim) jumped in with Steve at the last minute. Steve’s normal navigator Shane had some Covid woes. Considering they hadn’t sat in a rally car together until now, everything was gelling well and they were having fun.

New to rally in WA

Back with the clubman and Glen and son Max were having fun in their Excel. They were very quick on the early stages of the 2022 Forest Rally however eased slightly later on to get used to the conditions.  Still, their day was going well and we only had routine checks on the car in service. ]

Tiana and Graham had a good run in the early stages too. As the 2022 Forest rally progressed a gremlin developed in the Impreza’s gearbox. With a few baulked gear changes they started to drop some time.

With the clear late Autumn conditions it was bound to be getting dark by the time the cars finished. At the final service we put the lights back on the rally cars for the last two stages. Our state cars more or less got through on twilight however our Clubman cars definitely needed the extra photons to help out.

Heat 1 of the 2022 Forest Rally

Let’s take a look at how everyone finished up for Heat 1 of the 2022 Forest Rally. With stage 8 cancelled 11 special stages decided the day.  Worsening gearbox problems for Tiana and Graham dropped time and they finished the clubman in eighth.

Glen and Max had a great day finishing their first rally out West in seventh place. Rounding out our clubman cars was Damien and Gaetan. They’d suffered with gearbox problems the whole event and it worsened with every kilometer. Almost by sheer willpower they’d managed to wrestle the Lancer into second place in the clubman.

Heat one of the 2022 Forest Rally saw Hugh and Karen with a trouble-free day. The Blue Better Performance Products WRX finished in 27th place. Todd and Jeremy had quietly gone about their business all day and brought the S15 home in 24th place. Steve and Jon had a solid drive on their first outing together and finished in 21st place.

So ended Saturday, a great day of racing and all six cars home without a scratch. We got through the final two hour service of heat one, packed up everything and headed home ready to tackle Sunday.

Starting day 3

 Sunday  morning of the 2022 Forest Rally again dawned to a clear sky. Whilst we set up, the bacon and eggs sizzled  on the bbq.  Fresh barista coffees were being dispatched from cafe De’ Nannup (Steve’s trailer).  Five special stages and a little over 60km competitive lay ahead. We had time for a quick service in the morning after overnight park ferme and then our state cars were out onto the stages.

It’s not always plain sailing

Sunday morning of the 2022 Forest Rally did not go as expected. Good mates of ours Craig and Scott Pusey had a serious accident in their Subaru Legacy RS. Hugh and Karen were first on the scene behind them and immediately stopped to render assistance.

Thankfully there was swift medical intervention and the injuries weren’t life-threatening however it did require a visit to hospital. It was a testament to the safety and systems of rallying and the car build. If this had been a road accident it would have been a very different story.

 On the very next stage and a little higher up the field another drama played out.  Max Mcrae and Matt Kierans were doing very well in both ARC and WA state championship. They took a hairpin a little too tight at a spectator point and got their STI stuck in a ditch. Luckily there were many experienced competitors, officials and service crew nearby and they were able to help get the car out.

With a more relaxed schedule on heat 2 of the 2022 Forest Rally there was time to make use of the playground adjacent to the service park. For other crews they had a casual game of apple cricket.  Whilst all that was going on we were keeping one eye on the weather. The skies were taking were looking ominous.

Driveshaft swap in less than 10 minutes

 Getting toward the end of the rally and there was just one short service before the final power stage. It was really designed to give the cars a quick clean as the TV and social media were being broadcast live. For us however it was going to be the busiest time of the entire 2022 Forest Rally.

Steve and Jon had broken a front drive shaft two stages before the final service. We had less than 10 minutes to change it. On top of that the rain was coming in. We actually replaced the drive shaft without too much drama however discovered a stripped thread in the hub. It took us a little longer to get that sorted out. We got the guys out in the nick of time and they were off to the last stage without penalty.

In came the weather

 The weather by then however had well and truly come in and we’re all sheltering under the remaining service tent. The rain had also reached the forest and by the final stage the roads were a muddy river.

Despite the horrible conditions on the power stage Todd and Jeremy would go on to be best placed in our team for the 2022 Forest Rally finishing  in 21st place. Hugh and Karen finished the weekend in 24th and Steve and Jon dropped a bit of time with the broken shaft and finished 27th.

After weeks of preparation and a big weekend of racing, the 2022 Forest Rally was done and dusted. The next rally of the season is the 2022 Grimwade Rally based out of Donnybrook in late July.

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