It proved to be a long road in developing his brand new Ford Fiesta ST, yet Steve Mackenzie was not only pleased to finally debut it at Rally Australia but equally happy with the performance straight out of the box.

Mackenzie admitted in the run up to the local Round of the World Rally Championship that he expected it would be a tough debut weekend, having only driven the car for the first time in the week prior. Despite a few teething issues over the opening two days he showed the cars true potential on the final day.
“We literally drove the car all of about ten kilometres in the week before the event, that was the first time I’d been able to drive it in anger. Then we did about another fifty kilometres during the test day on the Monday before the rally,” Steve said.
“I think it was actually a great weekend,” added Mackenzie. “We had some minor issues to work through, but that’s all part of learning a new car, and it’s given us some areas to work on now before the next event.”
During Friday and Saturday’s Legs Mackenzie and his Opti-Coat team battled through overheating concerns, a turbo pipe that blew off, movement from an engine mount and a stuck gear selector shaft.
“We expected some problems, all of which proved to be fairly minor. The overheating we think is just not enough airflow, so that should be fairly easily fixed. The car still has so much room for improvement, so to set some good times on the Sunday was really encouraging.”
Mackenzie had struggled to set times above eighth fastest on Saturday’s six stages, but then with the car behaving he managed to set the third fastest time on the first pass over the 10.86km Bucca stage, and then followed it up with a pair of second fastest times over the 9.23km Wedding Bells.
“The times we set on Sunday were really good, I’d wanted to try to get closer to the times of Brendan (Reeves) and Scott (Pedder) when we started the event, so to get within one second a kilometre was great!”
Looking ahead to the last Round of the year, Rally Victoria, Mackenzie is confident that the extended break between events will allow his team time to even further improve the car with an eye on speed.
“The one area we felt weak on was top speed, the car just ran out of legs on the fast stuff. Hopefully we can get that sorted, but if we can’t I don’t think it’ll play a big part at Rally Victoria which doesn’t usually have any really high speed stuff,” Steve explained.
“The stages in Victoria are very similar to the Rally Australia stages we did well on, so that gives me a lot of confidence. It was great to finally get the car out there, and now I’m excited to getting it to Rally Victoria and get going again!”

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