The GSA team of Steve Shepheard and Tom Smith, in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. 6, suffered an unfortunate early finish to their weekend at coates Rally Queensland.

After a competitive run in the prior round in Canberra during early May, the 2007 QRC-winners were confident of continuing their season on home turf, where for the last few seasons they have performed very well.

At the shakedown on Friday at the Maroochy Showgrounds, the team were fifth fastest in the company of the ARC factory cars and leading big-budget privateers.

The first stage over the demanding Million LA, tucked away in the bush behind the Kandanga township, netted them eighth fastest – an effort repeated on the legendary ‘Kandanga Long’ stage, certainly one of the best roads in the championship series.

“It just doesn’t seem to be pulling as hard as it should in the top end,” reported the driver, complaining of a lack of outright speed.

After the short Lester’s Loop spectator stage and following service, the crew headed out to contest the first of the stages in the traditional Imbil forests.

Two-thirds of the way down the longest straight in the event, a fluttering engine caused them to bring the car to a gradual halt on the side of the road, where it remained safely parked for the rest of the stage.

With the car safely strapped onto the service truck, the weekend’s rallying was called off.

Ironically, while waiting in the service park at Imbil the team was able to offer a range of assistance to a number of crews, providing spare parts and manpower to keep a number of other teams in the event for the second heat.

An inspection at the GSA workshop has revealed that a fuel pump supply rate problem at high engine revs has caused a piston failure. This is a rare mechanical failure for the team, which usually enjoys genuine reliability.

The GSA/Oztec car will now be prepared for the next round in South Australia on July 26 and 27.

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