Almost a dream debut for Shamrock Motorsport
- 8th March 2013, 3:10pm
The Shamrock Haulage team of Richie Dalton and Kirrilee Gentleman had a sensational start to their 2013 East Coast Bullbars 4WD campaign, claiming a maiden heat win on Saturday's leg and finishing the event second overall on the gruelling Canberra Rally.
A clean, consistent drive on Saturday's four stages saw the team take out Heat 1 by six seconds. A remarkable result considering it was Daltons second only ARC event and his first in his own car, a Subaru STI. The Shamrock Motorsport STI finishing day one in front of 2012 NSW and ACT 4WD rally champion Mick Harding and Queensland vetern Mike Bailey.
"We were delighted with the heat win on Saturday," Dalton said. "The plan was just to get through the day and improve and build our speed up for the faster stages on Sunday. When Kirrilee told me we had won the heat, I was convinced she was winding me up. The whole team did a great job and we didn't have any major repairs to do to the car on Saturday evening so it was a great day's rallying."
Sunday's stages proved to be a little bit more challenging for the team. On stage 3 of Sunday's loop a puncture six kilometres from the end of the stage slowed the Subaru, losing over one minute and the pair arrived into service well off the lead in seventh place. There was drama again on the fourth stage. With Dalton on a charge to claw back some of the lost time, on the last corner of the stage, a protruding rock caught the front drivers wheel and broke the rim and bent the steering. The famous Canberra roads were living up to their reputation of being a trying test for both crew and car.
The frustration continued after the team crossed the flying finish on the last stage, when a one minute penalty was imposed for a timing error which happened earlier in the day. The combined result over Saturday stages and Sunday had the novice driver narrowily miss out on a dream first overall on debut in the Australian Rally Championship 4WD series.
"Sunday was very frustrating, but if someone had told me on Friday we would be on the podium on Sunday afternoon, I would have taken that for sure. To be on the pace on my first ARC in my own car is encouraging and it gives the whole team confidence for the rest of the year. There's definitely room for improvement and over the next few weeks we will do some modifications to the car to suit my driving style a little better, and hopefully we can finish one place higher on the next event," Dalton added.
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