The Rally Action team at the 2015 Experts Cup

Last weekend we trekked south to the coal mining town of Collie for round 3 of the State Rally Championship, the Experts Cup Rally.
On paper, the event was similar to 2013, with a format of three stages run three times for State and twice for Clubman. The normally hard packed roads around Wellington Dam hold up very well, even in the wet weather and so with fine weather forecast, we were prepared for a fun rally.
ANissan S13 Sil80 Rally Carfter blowing an engine early in the ill fated Donnelly Rally just a few weeks ago, Geoff and Paul brought out the Nissan Sil80 with a new power plant for this event to run state 2WD. Brad/Richard and Neil/Dannielle brought out their Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Excel respectively to run the 2WD challenge component and Andrew/Jess rounded out our team running the Civic in Clubman.

An early start for the team Saturday morning saw Geoff/Paul off writing pace notes whilst the rest of the team set up the service area and completed the final preparations for 1:00pm rally start.
Reports from competitors returning from recce were that the roads were in good condition and smooth which should have meant a fast, clean event.

Into the first stage, we discovered it was not going to be plain sailing. First Geoff/Paul were having some teething troubles with the Nissan’s new engine which meant they had to drop the first group of stages and head back to service for hasty repairs. They weren’t alone though. Several other cars were having various troubles and at one point the organisers had to stop the stage to find three or four cars that were MIA at various points along the route. All were quickly accounted for however it was showing that the surface was playing a big part in the fortunes of many.

The problems with the Nissan were minor, with the biggest issue quickly pin pointed to a faulty hose clamp that was letting a Experts Cup Honda Civic Rally Car turbo hose blow off, dropping power. A new clamp and a check of everything else had the car ready to rejoin the rally after first service. Our issues at that point were minor considering that the field was dropping like flies around us. The organisers’ recovery crews had been hoping for a quiet day. It was not to be and no sooner had one car been recovered, another two were stuck off the road requiring a tow. Without rains in the last 2 weeks before the event, the clay based roads had become looser than normal and whilst the route was smooth, the grip just wasn’t there. With drains and ditches lining almost every road and a lack of grip, retirements were inevitable.

Just before the two thirds mark, we had another two of our cars in trouble. Andrew/Jess had to furiously dig the Civic out after Excel stuck off road Experts Cup rallyputting the car off the road. They managed to get to the finish with seconds to spare before running out of late time. Neil/Dannielle put the Excel into a ditch and were stuck fast. The car was undamaged however with no hope of recovering it by themselves they were out. Both teams had gone off where others had been stuck earlier in the event.

On the last stage, the Experts dealt us one final blow. Brad & Richard had been holding down a comfortable second place in 2WD Challenge. On the last stage the Yaris copped a bank in the dark and got stuck off the road. The guys also worked hard to extricate the car however couldn’t recover it in time and had to retire.

With just 13 cars reaching the finish it showed just how brutal this year’s trip to Collie had been with very few if any escaping without at least some dramas. We ended the rally with 50%Toyota Echo Rally Car Experts Cup of our cars in the results. Geoff/Paul finished seventh in 2WD and Andrew/Jess finished seventh in Clubman. At least the championship has an allowance to drop the worst result so we still have a chance to make a charge in the latter half of the year.

Toward the end of July, we’ll be back into the southwest for the Lewana Stages rally. The plan is to debut a new car into the team making five for that event so keep your eye out as we’ll soon be making the announcement!

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field