It was a bitter-sweet start to the South Australian Rally Championship (SARC) campaign of Mitchell Hall last weekend at the ASP/Cut Price Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally after a 2minute time penalty cost the Fusion Motorsport team the win after only the first Stage of the event which doubled as Round 1 of the SARC.

After weeks of preparation Hall and Queensland based co-driver, Janah Mclean, went into the event confident that their Subaru Impreza, which in 2009 was plagued with mechanical issues, was in good form but unfortunately it was a reconnaissance pace noting error which dashed the dreams of their first ever SARC win.

The penalty came as a result of coming in one lap early on the first stage of the event, the Super Special Stage at Mallala Raceway and the pair were visibly devastated as they realised the error only seconds after leaving the track.

“It was a simple pace noting mistake which has cost us dearly,” said Hall, who would have finished the event with a healthy 20 second lead had the penalty not been in play.

Despite their frustration, Hall and Mclean were able to pick themselves up and reassess their goals going into the Special Stages on Saturday.

“With the competition out there we knew that there was no chance we could recover the two minutes we’d lost on Friday with only 70km of competitive stages on Saturday, so we decided our new focus would be to go out there and push hard, not only the car but also ourselves, after a year of next to no competition,” continued Hall.

Obviously the pair found the motivation required, not only moving from 57th to 24th position in the overall standings of the event on Saturday but also finishing the day's stages 20 seconds ahead of the next finishing SARC crew of Simon and Tasman Orme and taking home points for sixth place in the SARC standings. This was no mean feat from a young crew in a car that is now 12 years old and running a full gravel set up other than its Toyo race tyres.

“All in all it was a fantastic result after not finishing a single event in 2009 without problems. We found good speed early in the day and as always we worked extremely well in the car together. There is absolutely no room for error at the speeds we were reaching on the afternoon stages and so now we can be confident that we can maintain a solid pace as we go into the next round of the Championship at Rally South Australia next month,” concluded Hall.

The next round of the 2010 South Australian Rally Championship is Scouts Rally SA which will take place from June 25-27 in and around the beautiful Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and Mt Barker regions.

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