So to the first event of the year, and the weather started just like the forecast… cloudy, cold and light rain. In some ways not the most ideal start to the first stage rally for a good while, but a good chance to even out the lower advantage of some of the other cars have.
The event ran in its traditional ‘Winter’ format using the rally school, lower paddock and Indy circuit, but not the extended section using the tunnel.
The first stage was very slippery with a lot of ‘oil’ coming out of the tarmac, leading to many moments. Luckily the new Dunlops were working well at the front, although the rears could have done with a bit more grip. For stage two I lowered the rear tyre pressures a little in the hunt for a bit more grip. (Thanks to Ian M for the wheel spacer advice)
Although for stage two the rain was heavier this actually helped as it cleared the oil away, leaving the tarmac to grip through to. The Dunlop rally slicks were working well now even though they have minimal tread the compound (X22) of the tyres allowed the car to grip well.
The next pair of stages went well, with the track starting to dry out, the increased grip lead to increased speed and enjoyment. and the car was working well.
By lunch we had a healthy lead in 2nd in class (A) with 31 second lead over 3rd in class, and lying 42nd overall.
Stage six was the best run as a dry line was starting to appear, and I was able to really push on. During the wait for the stage seven we fitted the corner lights as the light was fading and given there was a delay for the start of the stage it was a good move to fit them. However sadly there was a incident caused by a another car in the pit lane, which caused the yellow flags to be put out just before we finished the stage. This meant we were given a notional time, which sadly for us was a fair bit slower than the time we should have got, this closed the gap to just 5 seconds between 2nd and 3rd in class, and cost us a few places overall. These delays and the damage to the circuit meant the final stage was cancelled. We finished up 40th overall and 2nd in class, which given the others in our class was the best we could have hoped for. The car ran faultlessly all day, and took a lot of abuse, Suze did a fab job on the maps. This result sets us up nicely for the AEMC Stage Rally Championship which were are doing this year.
Below are a few pics from the event, results and a video of stage 5.
(Pic thanks to Ian Crocker)
Results at the end of the day