Kirup Stages Rally – Zero out of four

2018 Kirup Stages Rally

Rain = Mud, or does it?

In the lead up to the 2018 Kirup Stages Rally everyone was a little nervous. A great deal of rain had fallen. In the past the wet roads around the forests had made the rally very tricky. Would the roads hold up or would it be a muddy bog? Round four of the Rally WA state championship would be interesting!

Twos and Fours

For this rally we had a four car team. Heading the list was Chris and Ben in the Spec C WRX. They’d been on track for a good result in the Safari Rally when a flat tyre dropped them out on the last stage. Geoff and Paul brought out their Escort again ready to do battle. The car had spent some time being massaged by the panel beater after their last outing.

Brad and Richard were again faithfully at the start line in their two door WRX STi. Some car and driver development over the past weeks was ready to be put to good use. Rounding out the quartet was Lance and Jace. We hadn’t seen the Silvia in the team since the Forest Rally. Travel and work commitments had curtailed Lance’s 2018 season.

Extra mentions

Also of mention are Andrew and Jon. Andrew navigated for Hugh Harmer in his V8 Commodore. Karen was unavailable for Kirup Stages and Andrew volunteered to jump in the silly seat. Jon too accepted a guest navigator role. Chard Marshall in his WRX needed someone experienced in the left seat and Jon was only too happy to fill the role.

Pea Soup Fog

The dawn of the July event was a foggy start which opened to a sunny day. Whilst the guys were out writing pace notes we got the service area set up. 120km of competition lay ahead spread over six stages. Little did we know we were going to have our work cut out for us.

And so the fun started

The afternoon start saw all the cars leave for the first section. At the first service halt, apart from some routine checks the Spec C was in perfect condition. Ben and Chris had started well and were in fourth place. Geoff and Paul though were late. With no phone call describing a problem, we wondered what had delayed them.

In the mean time we sorted Brad and Richard. The car needed only routine checks and things were looking good. Lance and Jace on the other hand had broken a driveshaft. The car Silvia had only one wheel drive. A quick driveshaft replacement during service and they were good to go again.

Holding the stick

In the mean time Geoff and Paul arrived in the Escort. The gear stick had come out mid-stage and they had to stop and sort it. The team got to work fitting new bolts and they were away again.

After section two, Ben and Chris had moved up the leader board. A quick check of the results showed they were now in second place. Brad and Richard too were having a good run. Our two wheel drive cars were having trouble. Lance and Jace had broken another driveshaft and it had taken a brake line with it. The guys were forced to withdraw and we needed to recover them.

Crouching Paul, Hidden electrics

Geoff and Paul were again late for service. This time we found Paul crouching in the passenger foot well when the Escort returned! A broken terminal on a power cable was the culprit and Paul had to hold it in place to get back to service. We soon fixed it and the blue Ford was ready for section three.

The last two stages were tackled in the dark. We fitted lights to our remaining three cars and sent them out to do battle. Racing in the dark is a different experience. Teams become experts at chasing the light of their own headlamps. Hazards and tricky sections that were easy to spot during the day now become hidden. Two of our cars would soon find that out.

Odds off trifecta

On the last section of the 2018 Kirup Stages rally it would all come undone. Ben and Chris went off the road and wedged the black Subaru under a fallen tree. Whilst making preparations to recover the Spec C we received some more news. Brad and Richard were off the road in the same stage and stuck.

Then to complete the trifecta Geoff and Paul were also forced to retire. The steering wheel had come loose and they didn’t have the tool to tighten it. Three cars in one stage, that is a record! We now had a quartet of DNF’s.

Going into the last stage Ben and Chris were holding a secure second place. Both were philosophical about what could have been when we arrived to pick them up.  Brad and Richard too were a little dejected. They had run wide on a left hand corner and beached the WRX on a log not far from the start line.

Infamous Kirup

With our worst ever finish rate at a rally, the 2018 Kirup Stages will go down in team infamy. With the cars all secure on the trailers we headed for Perth. A two month gap in the season will allow us time to get everything sorted for the Experts Cup rally in Collie in mid September.


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