Our team at the 2015 Quit Forest Rally

During the off season our team was busy in the workshop getting cars ready to start the new season.
With a similar line up to last year, the difference was going to come in the form who was competing in what championship rather than changing cars.
Both Brad/Richard and Neil/Dannielle had committed to moving up to state level whilst Geoff/Paul would again vie for the 2WD championship and Andrew/Jess planned to do a second season in the Clubman Cup.

By the time the season start neared, all the cars were prepared. The 180SX of Geoff’s had seen the biggest cosmetic changes with a face lift to a Silvia front end (creating a Sil80). With some tweaks to tuning, a higher ratio steering rack and a fresh coat of paint, the Nissan was expected to produce some solid results. The other car undergoing major work was the Toyota Echo of Brad’s. Externally little had changed, however the wheezy 1.3L 2NZFE mill had been substituted for the larger 1.5L 1NZFE engine which gave a noticeable power and (more importantly) torque increase.

We headed south to Busselton for the Quit Forest Rally in late March. The Forest is always the biggest event of the year and takes a lot of planning to make things run smoothly over the 3 days of competition. As it turned out, Geoff/Paul and Brad/Richard would contest the state section of the event with both Neil/Dannielle and Andrew/Jess running the shorter distance Clubman Cup.

Friday night should have been two sedate runs around the tarmac super special stage. Brad/Richard had their first go on the tarmac without incident however the Nissan suffered a flesh wound when Geoff/Paul found a concrete barrier on the outside of a tight left hander. The cause seemed to be driver distraction due to another car limping through the stage in front of the pair. Still, the Nissan team were off to a good start finishing both runs in a good position.

Neil_Dannielle_2015_ForestAs Saturday morning dawned, the team moved from Busselton to Nannup and set up in the service park in town. At the first service, gravel tyres were bolted on for the day’s stages and the Sil80’s rear bumper was refitted. Roughly 100km of competition lay ahead and all of it was in the tree plantations of the quiet town.

In the lead up to the event, the organisers had indicated that the roads had been graded and were in good condition. Perhaps the recent lack of rains or heavy logging traffic had affected the roads since grading? All we knew was that all of our team and a great deal of other competitors were complaining the roads were rough and slippery. With the attrition rate due to accidents and mechanical failures, competitors up and down the field were dropping like flies.Geoff_2015_QFR
We were counting ourselves lucky that our services were mainly routine without anything too major. That was however until Neil and Dannielle came in mid way through the day. The Excel was darting around so much that the car was almost uncontrollable. As soon as we had the car in the air, we knew the front struts had failed. The oil was completely gone in both, however the right side had also snapped a rod inside too. We had no choice but to fit standard struts, (the only spare ones we had) and cross our fingers. If the rough roads had damaged heavy duty gravel suspension, how would standard Hyundai struts cope?

At the front, Paul and Geoff were going well. Surprisingly given the loose conditions, tyre wear was not as bad as expected. At one point we replaced a rear tyre where the tread had been completely removed down the centreline. Being that the Nissan produces 200+HP at the rear wheels, having only shredded one tyre for the day was more of a bonus.

As the state cars came in for their late afternoon services, our Clubman cars finished the rally. Andrew and Jess had a brilliant day, bringing their Honda Civic to the podium in third place. Neil and Dannielle had a small front brake problem on the last stages, however finished the Clubman in eighth and the standard struts were still intact and holding the car up.

2015_QFR_Andrew_JessSaturday night would see repeat runs over the Super special stage in Busselton. Tidy passes by both our team cars paved the way for Sunday, however the Nissan had picked up a slight misfire under boost.

Back in Nannup on Sunday morning, we prepared for more of the same.
In an effort to cure the misfire in the Nissan, a myriad of electronics were prepared to be swapped out at the first service. As soon as the car arrived, we ripped into it, replacing coil packs, plugs and igniter.
As the car headed off to the stages, all we could do was hope the problem had been sorted.
By the next service however, the misfire had not gone away and if anything was getting worse. We quickly discovered that no.4 was not firing at all and the problem seemed to be somewhere in the fuel injection side rather than the ignition. With limited time to sort it, we turned the turbo boost down and sent the car back out running on three cylinders. Geoff and Paul would struggle on through the remaining stages.

There wasn’t many watching the podium ceremony on Sunday afternoon. We were there as both of our state cars had taken high places. Despite the misfire handicap, Geoff and Paul had gone well, finishing second overall in the state 2WD championship. Also finishing on the podium were Brad and Richard in the Echo. On their first state event in loose and slippery conditions, the father and son and secured second place in 2WD Challenge!Brad_Richard_Yaris_QFR

For us, the Forest was a big success. Three podium places and all home in the top ten was a brilliant result. The respective championship accounts have all been opened with a good swag of points from the season opener.
The next event is in early May and will see us back in the southwest for the Donnelly Rally.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field