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After claiming 2WD honours at the previous round in November, Brendan Reeves, and co-driver Kate Catford, quickly settled into the event, setting times in their Datsun 1600 that had them in the top five of all competitors.

Heat 1 comprised a total of four stages – two stages (30 kilometres in total) repeated, which saw the crews climb up Black Range Road and then drive down Stoney Creek Road to Heyfield. With cooler temperatures and a good road position (sixth car on the road), Reeves was able to take advantage of his favourable start position and was immediately on the pace.

With a number of this year’s Victorian Rally Championship events featuring stages run at high altitude, Reeves asked engine specialist Brad Nankervis to tune the car to run better in these conditions and he was pleased to see the efforts had paid off. He reported that there was less power loss at altitude than in previous events.

Heading into the mid-event service break, Reeves and Catford were second in the 2WD class and sitting fourth overall. They returned to the stages after a tyre change to soft Pirellis for the afternoon.

The afternoon’s four stages were a repeat of the morning and with the roads now well swept of gravel, Reeves was able to increase his speed and really push. The Datsun was running faultlessly and handling as well as it had all year.

It wasn’t to last, though. As the pair approached the finish line of Stage 7, the penultimate stage of the rally, the overheating warning light came on. When they checked for the cause of the problem at the completion of the stage, Reeves and Catford discovered the fan belt had broken. Despite putting their best bush mechanic skills to the test, they couldn’t restart the car and were out of the event.

“It was a devastating way to end the event,” Reeves said. “The car ran perfectly all day and to have something as minor as a fan belt end our rally was such bad luck.

“We both really enjoyed the event and it was great to see that the improvements we’ve been making to the Datsun are paying off.

“Kate did a great job again. It was the first time we had driven on pace notes for 12 months but we were really happy with the notes and that gave us the confidence to push hard in the afternoon.”

Reeves and Catford would like to thank their sponsors and all those who have supported them in this year’s 2021 Victorian Rally Championship.

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