Forest Rally

Catch-up post number two – A challenging event to say the least.

In an effort to learn more about writing better pace notes, I took the opportunity to run Smoothline notes, to learn other ways of doing things, and to fast track my learning a little bit.  They run the same 1-10 system as I tried last event, so hopefully not a large change, right?

Watching vids of the ARC top cars, there were a number of extra things that they use, that while I understood, I wasn’t in a position that I would know when I should use them when on Recce.  The notes gave be a great understanding of these aspects, and also a lot of other options and things to think about during our next Recce.  At the same time, while the notes were perfect, they use a lot of terms that didn’t make sense to me, purely due to what I was used to.  So all in all I learnt a lot, including something that we need to do better in Recce next time, something that lead to the end of the event…

Another thing on the list of todo items was to spent a rally playing with the damper settings, something that I’ve not played with with this car.

Stage one – laps around the park in the middle of Busselton.  Gave the crowd something to watch as we locked the rears and slid the car into the last corner – 10 clicks of bias to the front is not enough, let try 12 for the next run…

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Photo courtesy of CMR Photograpic


First gravel stage – The car feels like it has more grip after the damper changes, but it feels a lot more uncomfortable to drive, it doesn’t feel as planted.  Need to do a couple more stages like this and see if it is faster, or if I have gone the wrong way.

During the first part of second gravel it feels like I have a flat, or a half flat tyre.  We keeping going at a good pace, but not on it, as left handers don’t feel right, and much of this stage is on the edge of a cliff – not the place to run even the smallest amount wide.

On the road section, the tyre is fine, and the car doesn’t feel too bad on the Hwy, hmmm.  Time for service now, so lets go back and have a closer look.

Back at the service, a rock or something has managed to get stuck between the suspension arm and the damper, and it has bent and broken the hose to the remote canister – oil is leaking out of it 😦  Great…

With the help of Luke (MCA) we patch it up the best that we can, considering I don’t have a spare hose.  It has most of it’s oil, but no gas pressure.

At this point, time to concentrate on my notes, and my driving without getting too close to the limit, as the car is not behaving in the rear on any of the bump or jumps, having a couple of instances of jump out of the dip and 1/2 off the road, the most notable being at the end of Boomer 2 – even my heart skipped a beat on that one!

The end of day 1 is the start of day 2 (Saturday Night) – Another set of laps around the tarmac at Busselton.  A much better run around the stage this time, a lot less understeer this time so we set a better time.

Sunday morning.  Get into the car, let it warm up.  Stopping at the time control exiting Park Ferme the brake pedal is soft.  Not the start I needed at this time of the day.

The further we go, the pedal gets worse.  The handbrake is equally soft, so it is somewhere in the rear brake system (front and back are on two separate circuits).  Stopped outside the time control for service in, call the wife with a list of tools that I may need, not really knowing what the issue is.

Jump out, climb under the car, expecting to see a broken line or leaking caliper or something.  Nope, nothing under hear is leaking.  Climb into the back, to make sure its not leaking at the bulkhead fitting, where the line goes from inside the car to outside.  Nope.  Keep following the line back to the front, to find a puddle under my legs – coming out of the Tilton bias valve.  Its coming our from around the adjuster, something has gone wrong inside it.  Luckily the fittings on the valve are such that its easy to remove the valve, join the hoses and run with out it.

Big shout out to the boys from last minute motorsport that jumped in and helped us get the tyres changed, while we took the valve out and bled the rear brakes and cleaned the floor at my feet.

We get the service out control with about 30 seconds to spare, nice way to wake you up in the morning.

The first gravel stage of the day, was also the first stage that we did Recce on.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this fact at the time…  About 3.5 kays in, on a left 7 immediate left 5, we didn’t make it around the 5 and touched a stump on the outside – the only thing on the outside of the road for 50 meters in either direction…

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It spun the car 180 degrees, leaving us facing the wrong way.  After having to use the wipers to remove all of the dirt on the windscreen so that I could see, we flicked it back around and took off again.

The car won’t pull any more, and I imagine that the right rear is pointing out in some ugly direction – it feels like its dragging.  Left handers are equally ugly – ok I’ve done some decent damage…

On the run out of the stage, I wanted to keep up enough pace to not affect the car behind us.  The car is handling so bad that we have two more decent moments on the way out.  Then, while doing 93 kays over a brow, a large something shoots under the car, BANG, lifts the rear tires off the road – my first thought was the rear susp just parted, and we ran over the tyre.  The car is still driving straight-ish, we must have just run over something?

We leave the finish control, and find somewhere to park.  Door won’t open.  Out the window it is.  Nope, the window only goes down 50mm and jams.  Megs, I need help.

With Megs on the outside pulling the door, and me sholdering it from the inside we manage to pop it open.  The rear end looks like it has a bit of toe, but not anywhere near as bad as it felt.  Whatever went under the car later on in the stage has however torn huge holes in the floor under my seat.  With this being stage 1 of the day, and the fact that we nearly had two more moments as it was handling so bad, I make the call to go back to service, because the only outcome of doing the next stage is another off and more damage.  If we only had one stage to go, I would have kept going, but…

Back at service, the wheel alignment is ok, but the floor is torn up a lot from the rock or whatever it was on the road.  We check the shock and its got almost no oil left.  My the time we fix it, we would only be back for the last two stages, meaning that we miss too much.  I call it for the event.

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On reflection, I think the lack of power was because of how steep the next part of the road was, and the bad handling was down to no shock oil, rather than it being bent suspension arms.  Watching the in-car vid, I think the shock was low on oil right from the start, with it not being until I slowed down after the stump that I could really feel how bad it was.

We pack up, head back to Busselton, and take the kids down to the beach for some fun.

Over the next few weeks I will put up a number of new in-car videos to the Mike Joss Racing youtube chanel.

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