Drivers prepare for cold and wet Rally SA
- 31st July 2014, 12:18am
The East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship enters the second half of the season when drivers and teams converge on the Adelaide hills for this weekend’s Scouts Rally SA.
The traditional winter rally on the calendar always brings plenty of excitement and drama from the super fast roads and the variable weather conditions, with current forecasts showing a high chance of rain and single digit temperatures.
Having finished in the runner up position at the last outing in Queensland, points leader Brendan Reeves says he’s expecting to be committed from the start.
“It’s a rally where commitment is key. On those roads, when you’re absolutely flat out, there is no margin for error!” said Reeves, who himself came to grief amongst the notorious roadside gum trees in 2009. “My aim is to be neat and tidy. On these fast roads not getting sideways is important, you want good exit speed from the corners.”
“My plan is not to go out and do anything silly. I know I need to be fast and committed from the very first stage if I’m going to challenge Scott (Pedder). The times were so close at this event last year and I’m expecting much the same this year.”
The rallyschool.com.au Mazda has received some refinements since the last Round with Reeves excited to put them to the test prior to the event. “We’ve got some adjustments to the aero and the gearing which we think will help on the fast stuff. They produced some good results on the dyno, now I can’t wait to give them a run.”
Sitting just 16 points behind Reeves, Scott Pedder is hoping that his electric pace at Rally Queensland will stay with him in South Australia.
“I’m probably a bit more mindful of the risks heading to South Australia compared to Queensland,” commented Scott. “It’s looking like it’ll be a wet weekend, we all know the roads can be very tricky but I have a good car and we come here with great pace from the last event.”
The Walkinshaw Racing team has been hard at work too fettling more power out of Pedder’s Renault Clio since Queensland. “We ran a medium safe tune in Queensland to suit the conditions, while we’ve gone a bit more aggressive with the tune for the fast roads here,” said Scott.
“Basically it’s the same car, which we know is performing really well, just with a bit more grunt!”
Reeves is expecting one of the biggest challenges at this weekend’s event will be the harsh penalties ready to be handed down to anyone found to be cutting the course.
“Some parts of the forests are wide open and there is 50 metre grass verges either side of the road. So as a driver it’s very tempting to cut corners to gain an extra advantage. But the event has warned us to keep two wheels on the road at all times, or suffer big penalties,” explained Brendan.
Pedder downplayed the changes though saying: “They are the same corners that have been cut for the past 15 years, so there shouldn’t be any surprises for anyone. If the stage times are anymore than 1 or 2 seconds slower than last year I’d be surprised.”
One of the interesting additions to this year’s Scouts Rally SA is that the event will run over three separate Heats, with four stages on the Friday afternoon straight after the ARMOR ALL Power Stage forming Heat One.
“That’ll be interesting,” said Pedder. “Basically we’ve got a 33km Heat on Friday, so it’ll be straight out of the blocks and a slow start could prove costly.”
Local rally fans will be excited to see the return of ‘Sideways’ Jack Monkhouse, the South Australian back in his Nissan Silvia for the first time since Rally Australia last season.
“I can’t wait to get back in the Silvia – plenty of horsepower, a sequential gearbox and Darren Masters in the co-drivers seat for the first time in 10 years!” Jack exclaimed.
The reappearance of Monkhouse has been boosted with the support of Scouts SA, the organization not only the title sponsor of the rally but also featuring on Jack’s car. “I used to be a Scout, and I had my 21st birthday in my local Scout hall, so it’s terrific to have their support for the rally.”
“My aim this weekend is to have fun and to keep the front running guys honest. I know we don’t have the outright speed to match them, but if they hit trouble I’ll be right there to take advantage!”
The Citroen pairing of Tony Sullens and Adrian Coppin, as well as the Volkswagen duo of Michael Boaden and Mick Patton, will all be out to capitalize on their road positions, with the added benefit of being able to follow the racing lines of the front running trio.
While local young gun Guy Tyler returns in his Renault Clio and Victorian veteran Alan Roe returns after a one-Round lay off in his Ford Focus ST. And rounding out the outright contenders, the sole SUV entry of Bill Monkhouse, father of Jack, in his Suzuki Vitara.
Scouts Rally SA kicks off with the ARMOR ALL Power Stage on Friday morning, followed by four forest stages that afternoon to open Heat One. Then Heat Two on Saturday covers ten Special Stages totaling over 116 competitive kilometres, before Heat Three on Sunday covers a further ten stages with just over 78 kilometres of flat out action.
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