29th & 30th March 2003.
GREAT EVENT!! Very good shakedown for the season. We had a bit of everything - mud, rain, slush, sunshine, wasps, sandflies....
We were very lucky to have the services of David Calder as co-driver for the event. He brought Murray Wright (all the way from Invercargill) as service crew - so I'm sure we had the most 'spread out' team there that weekend covering from the top to the bottom of the South Island!
Thanks Dave, you are amazing. We have no doubts you will get to the very top of the sport and it was a great honour to have you with us.
Thanks must also go to the Autosport Club for accommodating the people who wished to run notes for the weekend. And thanks also to Murray for servicing!
We'd like to thank Carl Rabbidge for putting us onto David (and David onto us) and also for his psychology work during the first day. This guy knows so much and is so willing to help others!
So, the report.....
Arrived at Hanmer in the rain (first rain for weeks apparently). Stayed at the Alpine Garden Motel (HIGHLY recommend this one) and had the owner help us unload the car (once again in the pouring rain!). Poor Dave and Murray didn't arrive until midnight!
Next morning it was still raining - & the roads were a mess. It was great to see lots of people we hadn't talked to since the end of last season - sort of like a huge family reunion at times!
The club arranged for those doing notes to go at the end of the practice run - it was Sara's first time of calling the notes (although Carl Rabbidge had gone over this with her several times before Christmas). Luckily, between her and Dave they managed to get them pretty right. Although the weather conditions didn't allow the Levin to stretch his legs properly, they were happy with what they were able to work on. Just simple things like getting the start right, finding out just how late you can leave the braking etc. These are important things that need to be experimented on - & this was just the right event to do it.
The car went well - we only lifted the bonnet to comment on the amount of mud that had been thrown up. BUT, on the last run the service crew went off to spectate. When we got there the car before Sara was flying through, we waited and waited and then heard on the radio that #34 had gone off - arrgghh! Strangely, mother was instantly thinking of where we could find a friendly panelbeater rather than "Oh my gosh, is my daughter OK?". We raced back to the start to get the info on the situation, to be told - "Oh, its OK, they just lost their exhaust - they've found some wire and are continuing". The exhaust had apparently fallen partially off at the end of the first stage and they'd sourced some wire (I tell you, this Dave is resourceful!) and wired it back up in time for the second stage - refusing to give up as they wanted the practice (the determination of youth!).
Prizegiving saw Sara receive the Lady's Cup (yeah, OK, only lady - but we'll take it graciously as its a chance to get up there and thank those who help!) We didn't bother looking too hard at the times because of the amount of training they were doing, but it was interesting to note just what methods brought the better times.
Next day dawned fine - but brought out the wasps and sandflies. The Team was pumped for a great day - drier roads, easier vision and building on the day before. Once again they went at the tail of the practice run to write the notes - this going much better than the first day as they had the practice on just how the corners felt for Sara. It was pretty exciting to stand at the start line and watch the awesome starts she was doing - not an easy thing to start with the maximum amount of power going forward instead of sitting there spinning the tyres - but she mastered it!
The first run was going REALLY well until the car jumped out of fourth gear. Second run going well again - jumped out again several times. Third run, same again. The guys were devastated as they were really looking forward to putting it all together for a great result. Never mind, we packed up the car and headed for Palmside in Christchurch where it is now sitting awaiting a diagnosis.
What did we accomplish this weekend?
Funniest part of the weekend? Gotta be Dave Fletcher from Team RFR wandering up the road asking everyone if they'd seen a Toyota towing a toilet anywhere? Apparently the Portaloo had gone missing....