Month: April 2016

The thankyou list

Wow, what a ride.  Was not expecting this result so early – and it has not come easily.

Firstly, to my Wife and kids, thanks for allowing me to skip things like mowing the lawn and all of the other outside jobs that I haven’t done, so that I could spend the time in the shed making this car the best I could make it.

Secondly, to Megs, such an awesome job for your first ever event with pace notes.  You were super organised all weekend, and that takes a lot of stress off me because I can worry about the car, while you worry about where we need to go and when.  Your calling of the notes was exceptional, you have so quickly learnt how to call them out for me at the right pace, and I know we will just get better and better every event that we do.  I’m very impressed!

To my extended family, thanks for all of your help, and your time over the weekend to service for us, cook for us, or to just stand around cracking jokes at us – you know who you are!

A special quick mention to Luke from MCA that we abducted from the service park, thanks so much for your help in getting our damper back into a working state, so that we could finish the event!


If you have a business that is interested in sponsoring us, please get in contact!


To all of my supporters:


A big thanks to Shannon at Tune Corp for the tune on the engine.  Normally a v8 man, he did an awesome job in tuning this stock engine to produce the 140hp at the tyres that it has – its low, yes, but this engine had just over 100hp in stock trim, Shannon has extracted the rest, all with a safe tune.  Visit  Tune Corp to see the 800+hp cars that he does on a daily basis.




To Shane, at Tyreways Bentley – thanks so much for all of your help, every time that we need it.  Getting us tyres, wheel alignments, setup advice and all the swapping of tyres onto and off of rim that you do for us.




To Matt at AutoPro Canningvale, thanks for always looking after me, ordering in all the random parts that I’m after and for the great service from you and your team.  That banjo bolt that I you ordered in for me just before the event was the only reason that we finished the event!  Go and see the team for any of your auto parts needs.



To the team at Rent WA, thanks for the rental truck for the weekend, it meant that we were able to carry a lot of spares and we were well prepared for any situation because of this.  For all of your commercial rental needs, see RentWA




To Mike at Artek Signs and Designs, for all of the sticker work that you did for us. Artek Signs do all types of commercial  work, go and see them for all of your large commercial sign writing jobs.



The LONG drive back

Let me reset the scene.

10km to go until we get to the final control and the finish line.  The car is surging on left handers, and I can hear the fuel pump changing tone.  I tell Megs that I’m not sure if we are going to make it back..

So, I channelled all of my fuel saving skills from watching many hours of Nascar, and put in a fuel saving run that Carl Edwards would be proud of.

Waiting at an intersection, engine off.  As soon as we got up to speed, engine off, any downhill, engine off (thank god for electric power steering :)).  We probably made it back to Nannup with the engine off for about 70% of the time.

We get to the final control, and had officially finished – phew!

As we had ended up at the very tail of the field, we were much later than expected in getting back in.  I’ve got officials left and right trying to rush me back to the service park.  I’m thinking, hold your horses, we can go back and park at the back of the line of cars at any time – what’s the big rush?

We wander back to the main service park, and when we drive in Dave says ‘ Well done!’.  At this point I’m a little confused.  Raz was much faster than us today, and I hadn’t looked at any other times, but was wasn’t expecting what he said next.  “For what?” I ask.

“You’ve Won!”

Wow, I was expecting an answer like ‘You’ve finished the event!’, not that.  Now at least I understand what all the rush was about – Wish someone had actually told me.


Within seconds Terry had his microphone in my mouth and was bombarding me with questions, for the most part I don’t even remember what I said.  Now that I don’t have that pressure of public speaking, here is what I would like to say…

The final 3 – SS17, 18, 19

Ok, time to give it a bit push now – Healthway Loop 2.  I’ve since watched the in car videos, and by the 1.5km mark I’m already 3 seconds faster than my first run – game on?


Then I get the call from Megs – SOS in 450m shows on the rally safe.  Ok, keep counting it down for me.  It then disappears, so we get back on it.

It reappears in another hundred meters, and we get the countdown from about 300m all the way to the site.  We are the second car to arrive, so our job is to gather an info that we can, and get to the next SOS radio point to relay the info.

We get as many details as we can from the official that was there, and we are off to the next SOS point.  We’ve got about 3km to go, so we stay on it enough to be fast, but slow enough that we don’t go off as well.

Finally we get to the SOS point, and while stopping, tooting my horn and waving at them to come over to us, I nearly drop the front of the car into a ditch in front of us – would have been embarrassing….

After relaying the info to them, I move the car into a safer spot, and we get out and go and sit with the officials and their radio, just in case there is any more info that they need.  After they have it all sorted out, we get released by rally base to transport through the rest of the stage.  We stop at the finish while the officials get confirmation on is we can get to the next stage, or if we need to go straight to SS19.

In the end, the decision is to go to SS18, Folley 2.  Megs is still a bit nervous after seeing all that, so we take this next stage with more caution than the previous stage.  We loose a chunk of time, but we finish.

So, SS19 – the last stage!

We are now at the back of the field, and we are behind some much slower cars.  I ask for a 3 minute gap to the car in front of us, with Rally Base granting us a 4 minute gap – Thanks!  I’m glad we got it, because we caught that car by over 2 mins 20, so we would have caught them, despite the dramas that we had.

OK, that’s good – less worried about having to pass them on stage.  Then as we start the stage it starts to rain – great!

About 1/2 way through the stage, on a long left hander – fuel surge…  Ohh no….

Every left the car would lean out, meaning a bit lift from me to make sure I don’t hurt the engine.  A very frustrating stage as it felt like we were losing minutes. In the end it wasn’t that bad, but we do lose another 20 seconds.

As we cross the finish line I shut the motor off.  I spent a bit of time designing the fuel cell use every last bit of fuel – so assuming that work has paid off, we are nearly out of fuel with another 10 odd kms to go to get back to the finish at Nannup – I’m not sure we can make this….

SS14, 15, 16

Before we get out to SS14 we have a service. Nothing much to do to the car, but during chatting, Jo starts talking about the results.

“What time did you get on Brockman? Raz beat you by 50 seconds according to the results!”  We check the photo we have of our time card, and its correct.  Hmm, ok, I need to pull my finger out then!

Healthway Loop 1.  We start this stage with a concious effort of trying to start pushing the car and myself a bit harder. We have a look at the time at the end of the stage, only down by 8 seconds this time.  Ok, that’s closer at least.


Photo courtesy of Drift Images (


I’m a little bit torn at this point.  We have about 3 weeks till the next event (so about 2 weeks until scrutiny), so almost no time to fix anything at all, so I really can’t afford to stick it off the road.  But at the same time, you always want to ‘win’.

SS15, Ellis 2.  We go out at the same pace as we did on the previous stage, and end up around the same time per km behind.

SS16 Brockman 2.  At last, a repeat stage.  I’m a lot more confident with my notes on the second pass, as we have done it at speed before and have made additions / changes where needed.  33 seconds faster than my first run, and still comfortable at this pace – no mistakes, no running wide.  We are the closest that we have been all event to Raz, in terms of time lost per km.  Lets push a bit harder the next stage and see what happens.

SS12 and 13

We do the now familiar drive from Busso to Nannup, change tyres (to 4 fully inflated MRFs this time), then head out to the first stage of the day.

Both of these stages went well, you can feel the right rear damper going off during the longer stages, but its not too bad considering that its full of an air pocket and jack oil.

The MRF tyres on the rear seem to suit this car, I feel like I have a lot more grip.


Photo courtesy of Drift Images (


We get through both stages without any real issues, but when we get back to service I get a bit of a shock.


Photo courtesy of Drift Images (

SS11 – Trade Hire Busselton Long

Stage 11, while still being on Saturday is actually the official start of day 2, so here we go again!

We took up most of our service time in Nannup, so while being on time, when we get to Barnard Park all the officials are stressing and yelling at us because ‘we are going out any second!’

About 30mins later we are still still here in line, fully suited up, hemets on etc.

Finally they release us from the Oval to go around to the start, I’m ready to go!  At this point we stop in the line of 15 other cars, and wait here for another 20mins.

Finally its our time to start.  I have Mr Flood behind me – its game on Floody!


Surprisingly, having the right rear shock only 1/2 working actually made the car turn in better on the tarmac – didn’t understeer anywhere near as bad as it was the night before.

Got three nice laps in, 3 nice handbrake turns at the hairpin for the spectators.

Cross the finish line on lap 3, Red flag – Ohh no, don’t tell me something has happened to Floody!

I ask the official what’s happened – he says ‘you’ve done 4 laps’.  I say, ahhh no, that was only 3. That look of confusion, and then guilt crosses his face and I realise that he has mis-counted and has pulled us in early.  Arrggggggggggggghhhhhhhh!

We trundle around back to the Park Ferme area where we get questioned by the puzzled officials as to why we pulled in.  ‘The guy had the red flag out’ I say, ‘so we stopped’.  ‘Ohh, sorry about that’ they say. ‘ Turn around and you can have another run.’

I’m not too keen on that idea, this stage is one that you can gain one second, or loose the whole rally.  I ask what my other options are, to which the reply is a derived time based on my stage times during the day.

I take the derived time option.  A bit of a woossy move, but the risk of another run vs the reward is just not worth it with a busted shock.

One a few minutes later, a WRX, on a re-run crashed backwards into the concrete, completely pancaking the back of the car.  Somewhat justifying in my own mind that I made the right choice.

The car goes into Park Ferme (where you can’t work on it) and will stay there for the night.

Once we get back to our room, a look at the results gives us a surprise.  Although I’ve been talking about where we are sitting in the results in these blog posts, during the day we had not been looking.

To our surprise we have won 2WD for the day!  Bring on tomorrow then…

Service D

Pulled in, climb under the back of the car – oil all over the bottom of the shock.  The fitting to the remote canister is not tight, and its leaked all the oil out. hmmm….

We get the car up on its stands, and attempt to tighten the fitting up.  On touching it the circlip comes off and the hose pops off.  Inspection of the fitting shows that its cracked – something has hit it 😦

We pull the shock out of the car to have a better look.  The fitting is ruined and even with the help of ‘the man’ Murray Coote we couldn’t find anyone that had anything even remotely close to this fitting.  ‘Its an m10x1 thread’ Murray has said during this conversation – hmm, that’s the same thread as my banjo bolts for my brake calipers, and I have a spare one.

Then we find this absolute champion of a bloke called Luke, spotted as he was wearing an MCA shirt.  He helped us out in putting together a solution so that we can keep running.  First thing, we need some thin oil.  What do I have???

Will this jack hydraulic fluid work?  After wiping a bit on his fingers, we got a ‘yeah, that’ll do’ from Luke.  We got the shock filled, bleeding it, filling, bleading filling etc.  Almost there.  A couple more strokes of the shock to get the final air bubbles out and – we run out of oil.

‘What else you got?’  Says Luke.  looking into the toolbox at the air tools – any air tool oil? ‘At home, yes’.  I wonder off to see if anyone else in the service park has 20ml of any type of thin oil, while Jo is doing the marathon run to the BP servo to see if they have anything suitable.  During this time Beau and Luke have pulled the drain plug on the air compressor and have drained some of the oil out of that, and have the shock filled up.

We’ve got nothing to pressurise the system, filling it up with as much oil as we can is our only option.  Using a banjo bolt from my brakes, some alloy crush washers and an alloy spacer we get the whole thing cobbled back together and we have at least a partial damper.  There is about an inch of movement where there is no damping (air bubble), but there is at least something for the rest of the stroke of the damper.  Its not pretty, but as long as we can keep some oil in it we should be ok.  Time will tell.

Cody the superstar tyre changer does his thing, and the tarmac tyres are put back on ready for the drive to Busso and around the Special Stage.  Left rear tyre is soft 😦  This was fully inflated this morning, another job.  Jo runs off with the tyre and finds the Dunlop truck (Thanks Boys!) who check it, and can’t find any leaks in the tyre.  We grab another old Khumo what we had in the truck, and get that fitted to the rim to be sure.

Day 1 is almost done…

SS9 and 10 – Nannup Oval

3, 2, 1, go!

Launched off the start on the tarmac, the right rear sits right down instantly, ohh no, the damper is gone.

Turn into the first corner, you start on the tarmac, mount a kerb mid corner and then it is dirt.  It is the most cut up section of the weekend, and get a HUGE understeer, then once all of that was sorted out lots of wheelspin in the soft sandy dust.  Need to do that better next run…..

Turn into the right hander, you jump off the grass, over another kerb and back into the tarmac.


Photo courtesy of CMR Photographic (


A long left through the carpark, into a long right that changes to gravel after a little jump.

Capturesdf.JPGPhoto courtesy of Alan Bird Photography (


A nice, long right hand slide, that turns into a quick left/right through the finish.  That last section was actually a lot of fun, having a dead shock means a big, big slide into the left under brakes – backing it in from that far back (by accident) was fun.


Run 2 was straight after, and was much the same story.  Did the first corner with a really different line, trying to keep it straighter though the boggy bit.  Waisted my time cause I still got a big under steer and nearly got bogged again – oh well….

Pushed harder through the carpark, another understeer – this is going well….

Lets try 3rd gear through the long right on the dirt, try get some bigger rooster tails – lots of limiter, not as sideways – another fail….

Another big slide into the left, flick right through the finish line – ohh well, at least that last bit was fun.

Time for final service, and what has happened to my damper!



SS7 – Koala 2 and SS8 – Ferndale 2

Second Run of Koala was about 7 seconds faster, over a second per km better than the first run, we are slowly improving.  Still sitting 8th fastest in the state.


Photo courtesy of Artline Media (

Next was the one that I was waiting for, talked about by many as their favourite stage – Ferndale.  We didn’t get it run it the first time, so had nothing to compare my time to, but we moved up a place to 7th in the state so we are slowing improving.  I really liked this stage, nice and long and a mix of tight switchbacks in the side of a cliff, and open fast sections in the bottom of the valley.

I’m not sure exactly how far into the stage it was, but there was a left hairpin where some TV guys were, we slid in nicely, trying to impress the cameras, struggled up the hill, through a couple of right handers and then the next left turns were not quite right.

Ohh no, not a flat..

No, its not that bad, maybe its going down slowly?

Each left hander after that stayed about the same for the rest of the stage.  The car was sliding in the rear a lot more than it had been in the first part of the stage, but the ground didn’t look any slipperier.  We keep going, and it didn’t get any worse so we adapted our driving to not load up the right rear so much, and finished the stage without it feeling a lot worse – but something wasn’t right.

End of the stage, pulled over on the transport and checked the rear tyre, still at proper pressure, kicked a few things, nothing moved – hmm, maybe its just me?

Driving back into town it was slowly feeling worse and worse in the rear right, something is not right.  We got to the Nanup Oval stage, and lined up for our run.  As soon as I launched on the tarmac on the Nanup Oval stage I knew the problem….


Service C

Safely back to the service park, just parked outside waiting for our in time.  Wondering around the car, checking things, a push on the left front tyre reviled a lot more movement than there should be.  hmmm…

Just loose wheel nuts maybe, nope.

Ohh no, not suspension…  Climb under the car – nope.

Loose bolts where the shock joins the hub?  nope.

Got Megs to rock the wheel while I as under the car – hmm, wheel bearing…..


Beau had wandered down to see us, so I got him to grab the spare knuckle, and pull the wheel bearing off it, just incase we need it.  I was hoping that the main nut holding it on was just loose, and it had not ruined the bearings or stub axle.


Once we got into service and got it jacked up, pulled off the cover on the axle and yes, loose nut.  Checked the rest of the bearing and the stub axle and tightened the nut.  Then hammered the side end of the nut back against the flat on the stub axle to stop it from loosening again (no split pins here unfortunately :()

Luckily a 2 minute fix, and we are good to go again.  Some lunch and a drink, and we are ready to go again.

SS5 -Ellis 1 and SS6 – Healthway

These two stages were again great to drive, with us slowly getting faster and faster after each KM that we completed.


Photo courtesy of Artline Media (


Up to 10th place in the state after Ellis, and 2nd 2wd.  Moving in the right direction 🙂

Healthway was next, again no issues, I seemed to like this stage, had a flow about it.


Photo courtesy or Motor Sport Photo’s BJP  (

Up to 8th place in the state now, getting faster slowly.

SS3 – Koala

To take a phrase from one of my old mates “How much fun can a Koala bear!”


Photo courtesy or Artline Media (

First stage on the dirt with the car without a sticking throttle.  Happy that I’ve fixed that little issue – not a fun one to drive with!  While at the start for this stage we learn of a car on fire in the Ferndale stage, a great way to up your confidence before the first gravel stage!

Enjoyed the stage a lot, nowhere near the limit of what I or the car can do, but had a lot of fun doing skids again!  Listening to pace notes is going to take most of this event to get used to again, and fully trusting that I got them all right is going to take a couple of events.

Gained two places on the first gravel stage, onto the next one.

Service A

After the transport from Busselton to Nanup, it was time to swap over from the old rally tires that we used on the tarmac, to a nice new set ready for the gravel.

After Cody the superstar wheel changer (6 yrs old and on the rattle gun – thats my boy) helped us change tyres onto our new MRFs, we had about 5 minutes to go before we needed to leave service, so I went around and checked the tyre pressures – 15psi in the right rear – oops.


No problems, start the air compressor and put some back in it.  Get air compressor, and something has hit it in the back of the truck, and the meal pipe connecting to the switch/regulator has been snapped off.  Time for plan C then.

The only other MRF that I have fitted to a rim is a left side tire.  Plan D then.  Grab two of the Dunlops that I have fitted up, and pop them on.  3 minutes till we are due out, better make this tyre change one count.  Cody rattled the MRFs off and we got the Dunlops on and made it to the out control just in time.

Nothing like a bit of a rushed tyre change to settle the nerves before the first stage….

The Rally Story – SS1 and 2

The first two stages of the Rally are run on Friday night, around the foreshore in the middle of Busselton.  It’s a full tarmac stage, something that a car setup for gravel doesn’t enjoy a lot.  The last time I did laps around this course, I was in my old Tarmac S13, with well over twice the power, 9″ wide slicks, super low and hard suspension – this time was very different!


A picture from the parade lap, thanks to Dean Knowles for the image!

We had a good two runs, nice and smooth and clean, too much understeer, and as fast as the little motor would push us down the straights, and a bit of handbrake action at the hairpin for the spectators.  Our lack of power down the straights was so evident in the car, leaving us 19th in the state.  Not a great start, but that’s all she had on the tarmac – the gravel will tell our true rally pace.

World Champions!

Ok, I’m exaggerating just a little.

We did however manage to win the 2 Wheel Drive State Championship part of the event!


I still have some more speed to find in myself – trusting my pace notes, but considering our major rear damper issue on Saturday (more on that later), an awesome co-driver that was on her second ever rally, and first ever pace noted rally, and that I haven’t driven a full rally competitively in 14 years I’m fairly happy with the weekend :).

I learnt so much about what I need in my notes, what tweaks I need to make to the car and how I need to drive for this new car to work.  Our next event is only a couple of weeks away, so many these car tweaks are going to have to wait, but I’m excited to get out there again and push a  bit harder.

One week left until scrutineering

One week to go until scrutineering, at least I’m nearly ready…..IMAG0985

Once the above wiring is complete, have a few bodywork things to finish.

The first being taking a mould of the front bumper.



Then painting panels, like the bonnet.DSC_1894


Once the mould had set, time to make a bumper (the other one was full of body filler where I repaired it)IMAG0987


The new bumper, out of the mould.DSC_1895


More soon, I’m still out in the shed!