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It seems appropriate for former Victorian State Rally Champion Mark Fawcett to be debuting a German SUV in the Adelaide hills this weekend, after all much of area Scouts Rally SA runs in was first settled by German immigrants in the early 1800's.

Fawcett, Victorian State Rally Champion in 2008 and 2009, will give his thundering V8 Porsche Cayenne its maiden outing in the SUV class of the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship this weekend.
After a long gestation period for the Cayenne, which will come up against the lone Subaru Forester of Brett Middleton in the SUV category, Fawcett is relieved to finally be turning the Stuttgart-built Porsche’s wheels in anger.

“I’ve had a bit of time away from the sport for a couple of years now, so to say I’m excited to be getting back into the forests would probably be a bit of an understatement,” he said.

And in keeping with the Germanic theme, Fawcett admitted that the nature of the roads in South Australia are the perfect place to debut the Porsche.

“The roads are fast and wide, while the car is, to be honest, big and heavy. I can’t imagine giving it its first run on a really twisty road that we get at some of the ARC Rounds, so to come to Adelaide to give it its first outing was pretty important to me,” he explained.

The decision to go with the Porsche SUV was not a choice taken lightly by Fawcett, who admitted that he’d spent a long time looking at specifications of eligible cars before opting to go with the Cayenne.

“I looked at a lot of cars but in the end the Porsche had a great power to weight ratio. On top of that, Porsche has a great motorsport history and that was something that I wanted to leverage. I saw that Porsche had run a pair of Cayennes in the Trans-Siberia Rally a couple of years back, and that was what really pushed me across the line.”

“It’s a 4.5 litre V8, it sounds incredible! It makes about 350 horsepower, it is big and strong, and it has enormous brakes, which we’ll need because it’s 2.1 tonnes in weight!” Fawcett added.

The finished car looks immaculate, but it didn’t start out that way, Fawcett purchasing two damaged Cayenne’s to piece together the completed car. And the build wasn’t without its issues either.

“One of the hardest areas was understanding the electronics in the car. Everything is all controlled by the ECU, including the traction control, the ABS and the stability control. You don’t really want any of those things active in a rally car, especially ABS on a gravel road.”

“So we spent a lot of time trying to work out how to turn them off. About a week ago we still hadn’t got it right, and I was looking at having to pull our entry. But I ran at a local autocross last weekend and the car drove and handled like it should, so we’re pushing ahead and we’ll use this weekend’s rally as a big test,” Fawcett said.

With some competition in the SUV category, which has been dominated by Middleton’s sole Forester, what is Fawcett planning for the weekend?

“I’m not going to Adelaide to challenge Brett Middleton. He’s had plenty of time to get his car working really well, while we’re just at the start. I’m here to learn from the experience, to get myself back up to speed after a period away from the sport, and to have a heap of fun too!”

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