The 2003 Rally of Nelson
saw our three Toyota service crew flying down from Palmerston North,
joining Mum, Dad and Caity, with Carl Rabbidge of Timaru who occupied
the co-drivers seat. Bert was looking great after the usual intense
preparation to ensure maximum reliability.
It was excellent to meet the Nelson
supporters on Saturday at the pre-event display held in Richmond.
Unfortunately we had run out of posters so were unable to give any
out, but it was great to talk to everyone.
At our pre-event team discussion we
set the aim to try hard and Carl added he wanted us to bend and break
panels to see how well the crew could work.
Saturday morning at 6.45 we sent
half the crew to Tapawera which was to be the service park for
the whole rally. They managed to score a great concrete spot with
plenty of room for our set-up – and even better, right next
to the barbecue run by the local school!
Back in Richmond, our rally started
at 8.36am with our seeding of 53rd on the road (following our results
from early rounds in Dunedin and Invercargill). First stage was
26km odd and I remembered it well from the past 2 years – yes,
many will also remember the Rout road signpost and how we took
it out in style in 2001. This was an excellent stage, we moved
up to 38th overall.
Stage two was around 23km long and
with instruction from Carl, we worked on our speed through the 7 and
8 corners (the fastest in the note system) and our braking into corners.
This stage had the famous ford in it where you get airborne but there
is a reasonable right hander after it. Through this stage, we finished
33rd. All was going well, however after getting too airborne over
a skid site and having a very dodgy and heavy landing, we decided
to change set-up and stiffen the front suspension at next service!
This ended up helping us on the repeat of this stage and we managed
much faster starts with more traction with the front wheels.
Stage three was Borlase road, around
13.73km long but certainly one to keep you on your toes. This stage
was my least favourite, many found it rough but it was hard-based,
and was hard to find a rhythm for it. We started having problems with
dust, gaining 35th position and 33 sec on the guy in front, a further
1.11 min on the car in front of that.
Stage four was Spooners Camp and 12.24km
long, we lost notes for some of this stage, because of taking different
lines through skid sites than the note maker. However, I really enjoyed
this fast and flowing stage.
Stage five was a repeat of stage
two, we wanted a better time here and pushed hard. Over the ford
we pushed a little too hard and were able to give a detailed description
of the surrounding trees! We managed 28th out of the 41 still running,
were 14 seconds faster than our first time through and gained 43
seconds on the car in front and 1.30 mins on the car in front of
him. We knew we were pushing harder because we had to run the windscreen
wipers for most the stage – the forces were such that the
windscreen washer water kept spouting out onto the windscreen around
every few corners.
In the services, Sven had to re-bolt
the battery down every time because the force of our landing over
jumps was so much that it would come loose. The crew also had to borrow
fuel from Scotty after the car was guzzling through it, doing an average
of around 1km less per litre of fuel than in all our other events
Stage six was a repeat of stage three – Borlase
road. Power would be less of a disadvantage for us on this stage,
with most being on flat or downhill. We managed to finish it 30
seconds faster than our first time through and a placing of 30th
overall. Gaining 44 seconds on the car in front.
Service C, Carl and I had yet to
make the crew work hard with damage – a broken wing mirror,
underbody protection falling off and bad scratches were all we
could throw at them.
Stage seven was a repeat of stage
four – Spooners Camp. Carl figured out what was going on
with the notes through skid sites and was able to keep on top of
them for another fun run.
Stage eight was part of stage one
in reverse, plus some extra - totalling 32.43km long. Was really
enjoying this stage until we caught both cars in front and subsequently
had very bad dust – losing 30-60 seconds on our closest competitors.
Carl gave me instructions on braking through the dust and braking
late but several times we had to just crawl along in low gears.
However it was an experience that I have learned much from. The
wide and hard based forest roads were in excellent condition and
were awesome fun.
So at the end of the rally, we lost
only a couple of overall placings from the last stage and I learned
heaps. Carl kept me very relaxed, the car ran faultlessly all day
- like Toyota’s seem to do.
Many thanks to our hard working service
crew who although had no panel beating to do, worked hard to ensure
the car was always working well. I know we got a few stares from
people wondering what we were on about taking all tyres off and
changing them at each service, doing spanner checks and then waterblasting
the car – but that is what has ensured we have had a reliable
season so far!!
To the organisers of the rally, it
was an excellent rally and something the locals can boast about –
great to hear it’ll be a national round next year too.
Well done to Malcolm Stewart and
Catherine Dobbie – great drive to win the rally. Congratulations
also to John Giltrap and Grant Marra for second and Mark Tapper
and Jeff Judd for third placing overall. To Noddy, huge well done,
first local home and winning 4 out of the 8 stages, after losing
around 3min on the first stage but finishing a very impressive
Thanks to the many people who cheered
us on over the weekend, your support was huge and made us feel
really special. Nana and Grandad got out there and spectated also
(from very early in the morning) so thanks for that – and
the crew really appreciated the baking as well.
So with plenty of ideas floating
around in the team, next year is set to be a great year. There
will be several changes and improvements being made to ensure we’re
well equipped for another go at the NZRC 2WD championship. Unfortunately
this year will be our last year in the Mainland Championship as
we will be moving to Palmerston North.
We’re now in preparation for
the Blenheim Rallysprint and maybe the Westland Rally (no Clinton
Anderson, I’m too scared to co-drive!), with it being held
mid bursary exams.