The Driver Skills Australia (DSA) team of Mark Butcher (driver – TAS ) and Lisa White (navigator – WA ) where eager to hit the roads in the all black Subaru WRX rally car at last weekend’s Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge.

The crew worked non-stop for three weeks preparing the car and making adjustments from gravel specification to tarmac. The car also had to have some major components rebuilt to ensure the team could push hard and maintain reliability on the fast and twisty Tasmanian roads.
With the event underway early on Saturday morning the DSA team were performing well, but struggling with grip on the wet roads, and after some reasonable stage times, left the road on stage 4 near Savage River.
“The roads were very wet and it was raining on and off as we drove near to the limit, and unfortunately we were caught out after a fast section over a bridge, and the following right hand corner tightened up, leaving me with little option but to run directly off the road,” Butcher said.

“We stopped only about 1m from the edge of the road, but with all the rain there was practically a creek running under the car. With semi-slick tyres we had no chance of driving back out. We were assisted by the recovery crew, but as a result had to be excluded from that stage – effectively ending our chance of finishing eighth – which we had been running up until then.”
Waking up on Sunday the weather was looking promising and with the hope that the roads would remain dry teams set off again to tackle the roads around Hellyer Gorge and Savage River.
A fast run over the first stage had the team confident of a good time, but it was the little Mitsubishi of Molly Taylor that really was flying, giving the DSA team a slap in the face. The DSA team also had a spectacular half spin on this stage and nudged the gorge with the front of the car – only enough to bend the number plate, however, and not much time was lost.
The run to Savage River and back was a bit damp and with the tight and twisty conditions everything was pushed to the limit again. Although the DSA team recorded a good time, once again Molly Taylor had gained a further advantage and was getting away from the black Subaru.
The pressure was on but things weren’t to be for the DSA team as a flat tyre meant that the team had to run with a brand new tyre on the car, which had not been scrubbed in. Also, the brakes had failed on the left side and by the end of the stage the entire brakes were on fire, burning out the seals and melting the brake pads to the caliper.
“We reached speeds of around 160km/h and the brake pedal was on the floor – this certainly gave me an adrenalin rush as we had to make sure pacenotes were spot on to avoid running off the road and using what was left of the brakes to slow down,” Butcher said.
After losing time to the rest of the field – the team decided to aim for a finish on the final stage, and with some repaired brakes they were happy to see the finish line after two days of high speed rallying.
The Heat 2 result was ninth outright and the team were pleased to have achieved a top 10 result for the weekend, and add to the points already scored in the first round of the championship in WA earlier in the year.
With a very limited budget, the team were very thankful of the support of all the local service crew and everyone that assisted in getting the car to the start line.

The DSA team offer a range of sponsorship packages that include hot laps and defensive driver training and would be happy to talk to anyone interested in supporting the team. The team are planning an upgrade into a new car for 2009. Interested parties should contact Mark directly via the website
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