Boddington Safari Rally – Tough & Technical

MRF Tyres Boddington Safari Rally

This year the Light Car Club brought the Safari Rally back to its spiritual home in Boddington. Set on the June long weekend the event was round 3 of the Rally WA championship. 140km of plantation roads defined the technical event.

The Rally Action Team

We fielded a five car team comprising of all state championship entries. Joining our team for this rally was Hugh Harmer and his V8 Commodore. His service crew were competing in South Australia so with Karen navigating, we all set up together for the day.

With a fairly close commute from Perth the guys completed pace notes on Saturday. This was a break from the normal format. Most WA rallies have recce in the morning before the event gets underway in the afternoon. A ceremony in town Sunday morning signalled the start of competition.

Challenging opening stages

In the first two stages there was plenty to keep competitors alert. The roads had a few tricky sections and some wayward rocks and stumps. By the first service Geoff & Paul were having trouble with their Mk 2 Escort. Clipping the scenery with the left rear had blown a tyre. The tyre in turn had wrapped around the axle and pinched the brake line. We sorted all the cars in the tight service time and sent them out for the next runs.

 

Drama at the mid point

By the mid-point service the Escort was sporting more battle scars. They weren’t alone though as Brad and Richard had hit a rock in the road and bent their front suspension. The rest of the team were going well. Ben and Chris were climbing the leader board in their Spec C WRX and well inside the top ten.

Corners in disguise

The area where the Boddington Safari was set was all on private property. The land was mostly Blue Gum tree plantation. In previous years the trees were standing. This year most of the trees had been logged. It opened the area and changed the character of the rally completely.

With no tree lines to follow it made some corners difficult to pick. In several areas the logging had left stumps and loose rocks close to the edges of the road. On some of the repeat stages the corners appeared 20m wide. The reality was very different. In essence the road was narrow and loose dirt disguised hidden hazards.

Tough test for man and machine

On the third service more of our cars were showing signs of the road conditions. Hugh and Karen came in with a bent panhard rod and battery clamp troubles in the Commodore. Brad/Richard had a cracked gearbox and Geoff/Paul had split a rear brake line. We got them all sorted and sent them out for the last two stages.

Dramatic Ending

The final stage of the Boddington Safari was dramatic for many cars not just our team. Probably the wildest story came from the rally winners. Dylan King/Lee Tierney led the whole event in their new WRX hatchback. Part way into SS8 the car jammed in third gear. Not only that but they hit four kangaroos over the 28km section! The damage to the front of the car was moderate however a holed radiator cooked the engine.  Despite the mishaps they still won the stage and took the rally win with nearly 2 minutes in hand!

Only flat on the bottom

Ben and Chris were in fifth place going into the last stage. A flat tyre several kilometres in cost a lot of time. They dropped well down the field after stopping to change the wheel in the dark. The good news was that the new engine installed after the Forest Rally had run flawlessly. Getting into the top five also showed that Ben was coming to grips with his new car and had a good turn of speed.

Geoff and Paul had a little more bad luck with the Escort. SS8 saw the pair lightly roll the car. Luckily the blue Ford landed back on its wheels and they could finish. It had been a trying day although a great deal was learnt for development of the new machine.

Brad and Richard had to nurse their WRX to the finish. Something in the transmission was not happy and the car had gone from four wheel to rear wheel drive. The pair had a few scary moments when the tail stepped out unexpectedly. The guys finished the Boddington Safari 19th.

Mark and Jon had a relatively trouble free day in their Celica GT4. Keeping it neat the pair finished in 13th place. Rounding out our team Hugh and Karen got the V8 brute through the stages and finished a respectable 16th.

Special Mention

A special mention to Barry McGuinness and Glenn Alcorn at the Boddington Safari Rally. Barry started out competing at our Rally sprints last year (and currently leads the 2018 Zestino Tyre series). Barry well and truly caught the rally bug. He bought the ex Lea Welch WRX only a few weeks before the event and got everything ready to go. On the rally the boys had a clean run and a debut finish of 9th outright. A fine effort for a challenging first event.

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