Performance Race Gear – Gravel Action Sprint Round 1

Round 1 of our Gravel Action Sprint series ran toward the end of March. It had been a culmination of several months of work behind the scenes and physically on the ground. No longer the realm of full rally cars, new vehicle and competitor requirements opened up entries to a wider audience. Construction of a new 5.5km stage designed specifically for rally sprints was also completed.

The weather intervenes

With 30 entries, it looked like we had everything set. That was until some unusual weather intervened. Only a matter of days before the event, 60mm of rain fell in half an hour. The torrential downpour flooded most of the stage and washed away newly created culverts. We found one culvert pipe washed over 1.5km from its original location! It was fun getting in there to retrieve the 6m long, 100kg pipe!

In the remaining three days we rebuilt the stage. The last 500m was still too wet and the route was altered to use part of our Rally Experience stage. Even the day before the rally sprint we received another 3mm of rain. Luckily it was enough to damp the surface rather than soak everything again.

Sunday morning dawned clear and soon everyone arrived. We sighed a sense of relief when recce started and we were ready to start racing. As most of the entrants were newbies we had to guess at the seeding. Full rally cars and regular competitors started first. Geoff Leatt Hayter/Paul Helm drew car 1 in their Nissan Sil80.

First Stage

Most of the field got through SS1 fine, however Shaun Mc Macken/Laine Windleborn struck trouble in sight of the flying finish. One of the battery cables came off their rear drive Toyota Corolla and they stopped for a few minutes to repair it. Stuart Hewer/Mika Connor had a little bad luck when a spark plug lead came off their Ford Escort causing a misfire and dropping them some time.

A quick glance at stage times showed how close it was from the get go. The quickest run for the first stage was under 5 minutes. Several teams set the same time of 5:04.


Second Stage

SS2 saw another Escort in trouble. Glenn Alcorn/Cathal Cartin blew the diff in their RS2000 causing retirement. Gary Mills/Conor Kelly also had troubles when their red Honda Civic overheated. Some swapping of cars and drivers would see the guys able to continue.

Final stages

SS3 ran without any problems and the final stage for the day would be the decider. Hewer/Connor had an unexpected problem that caused their retirement before they could start SS4. Whilst idling, a pipe to the oil pressure gauge burst and sprayed oil onto the exhaust. The small fire that resulted put the guys out for the rest of the day. Paul and John Mc Crory also had to retire when the clutch on their Mitsubishi Lancer gave out mid way through the last stage.

Top Ten

After 4 stages the results were in. Declan Treacy/Jason Carusi brought their WRX to tenth place. Ninth place and first junior was taken by Kelly Thomas with father David alongside in their Ford Laser. Lance Stringer and son Jack brought their Nissan Silvia turbo to eighth. Michael and Julie Arthur brought their WRX to seventh and first rookies. Barry Mc Guinness/ Stephen Kingston brought their WRX to sixth. The guys had also shared the stage win on SS4.

Top Five

Brad Nowell/Taran McCarthy took their WRX rally car to fifth place with a shared stage win on SS4. Father and son Mark and Damon Keltie had a consistent drive all day. They brought their Celica GT4 home in fourth and first 4WD car. Leatt-Hayter/Helm got the Sil80 home in third despite some overheating troubles.

Top Two

That left the top two spots. Garth Mcguire/Ashlee Taylor used Garth’s “Grilver” Proton (Lancer) to take second place. Dave Thomas/Kelly Thomas took the win and the 2WD points in their Ford Laser. It was encouraging to see 2WD cars at the head of the field, showing that a 4WD car isn’t needed to be competitive in our Rally Sprints. Adding to that, the top two places were Autocross spec cars, not full house rally weapons.

Thank you to everyone who entered and also a special thanks to all of our officials for helping out on the event.

Click Here for Results from round 1

Next Sprint – Round 2

Round 2 of our Gravel Action Sprint series is on the 20th of May. Entries are open and details can be found by clicking here.

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