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The 2006 Fulcrum Suspensions Coastal Challenge was run on June 16/17.  Running as a touring road event alongside Rally Queensland, this year’s event moved to a two day format over Friday and Saturday.  18 crews ran both days, with a further 8 crews running on the Saturday only.   An excellent variety of cars entered, with WRXs and MX5s making up half the field.  There were also a couple of Evo Lancers and Healeys, mingling with cars such as 911, turbo Landcruiser, Smart and XR6 turbo.

Clerk of Course Andrew Owen had put together a very pleasing and challenging event for both drivers and navigators, and its testament to his dedication that the event started on time.

Starting at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre with two runs over a special test spanning 4 car parks, most crews had a trouble free and quick run.  Unfortunately for two crews (Porsche 911 and Datsun 1600), they misjudged the same kerb and had to effect some repairs but managed to stay in the event.  A navigation section then took the field through the northern suburbs of Brisbane and up to Mt Mee on some fabulous driving roads, to a control in Woodford.

From there the crews then faced a climb up into the Sunshine Coast hinterland before dropping down to another special test venue at Caloundra.  Two runs over that test saw the conclusion of the day’s competition.  The navigation didn’t seem to face any of the crews with excellent results from most and three crews cleansheeting the day.  First outright was Fook Seung Lee/Pauline Thompson in their 1975 Corolla, the WRX of Jonathon McCowan/Simon Grounds, followed by Evan and Cara Wheeler (WRX) and Peter Steinback/David Mitchell (MX5) in equal third.

Several cars infiltrated the Coates Rally Queensland street party that night at Mooloolaba.  The new Fulcrum Suspensions STi Subaru was parked adjacent to the starting ramp and drew many admiring glances and photographs.

The next morning dawned another clear Queensland day, as the field assembled at the Big Pineapple Tourist park for the start.  A quick run around the carpark got the blood flowing, before a navigational section through Kin Kin and Pomona, then up the back roads to Gympie.

At Gympie, a couple of runs at the Roadcraft Driver Training Centre gave the crews reason to don the helmets.  One run through the slippery road course, before two runs around the skidpan and surrounding roads.  This was the chance for the drivers to really throw their cars around, and most did, clocking some really quick times with no mishaps.  From here, it was a short navigational section to Imbil for lunch and a browse through the ARC service park.

After lunch, the field had a non-competitive run through the Imbil stage after the Rally Queensland field.  Another navigation stage then took them down and up through the Sunshine Coast hinterland.  This involved some challenging driving roads with fabulous views, before a finish right by the water on the Maroochy River at Cotton Tree.  All crews seemed upbeat but a bit tired at this point, which may explain why a third of the field missed the last VRC.  

Only one team clean sheeted Saturday, giving Megan Jones/Darren Barton (XR6 Turbo) the distinction of being the only crew to cleansheet the whole event.  Outright places on the day went to Richard Chaseling/John Keen (Peugeot 205GTi) and Fook Seung Lee/Pauline Thompson (Corolla) in equal first, followed closely by Rhys Keepence/Josh Armstrong (MX5) third.

Over the two days, outright first was Fook Seung Lee/Pauline Thompson, Megan Jones/Darren Barton second with Richard Chaseling/John Keen and Jeff Rowse/Beth O’Donnell (MX5) in equal third.  Quickest team on the driving tests went to Mark Stringer/Kevin Houghton in their very quick STi, holding a 24 second gap to second, though the next 8 cars were only split by 10 seconds.

A huge thank you to sponsors Fulcrum Suspensions for being understanding and involved throughout the event. Two Fulcrum cars participated on the Saturday and both crews (Barry/Saleena and Darren/Adam) appeared to enjoy themselves. As sponsors for the Fulcrum Suspensions Coastal Challenge for the last six years, we look forward to a continuing relationship with this Queensland originated national company.

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