The Celtic Motorsport Team were back in action at the weekend at the Myall Lakes Rally, the latest round in the NSW state championship. After the crash in the ARC Coffs Harbour event, the team was hopeful of a problem-free run to gain more experience and grow the confidence in the car.The team enlisted the services of ex-factory Subaru and Citroen co-driver, Dale Moscatt, to help with the pace notes and try to absorb as much info from him as we could.

Recce was conducted on saturday and with plenty of time allowed for two passes over the 5 stages, it gave Charlie, Eoin and Dale the perfect opportunity to talk openly about the note system we were currently using.

"Dale had seen some in-car from the Coffs rally and we talked Friday night on ways to simplify our notes and the delivery of the info so that I could process it more easily," driver Charlie Drake said. "It was really good that all three of us did the recce, and after the first stage we pulled in and talked for about 15 minutes on aspects of the notes we weren't happy with. Both Eoin and I were open and honest with each other and Dale then suggested ways to rectify the points we raised. It worked really well. After the next stage, applying the advice from Dale, the notes were a lot more simple and compact," he added.

An early start on Sunday morning had the team at Dashsport and Performance up early to give the Rallyschool Evo one final check before the start. It proved to be a frantic lead up to the event as we tested the car on Thursday at Rallyschool's test stage in Richmond, and the car overheated and that blew the head gasket. That was fixed on Friday but on Friday night the oil pump pulley seized so that proved a bigger problem. Thankfully the ever-reliable Darren Williams had spares at his workshop so a late night until 4am rectified the problem and the car was put on the trailer to head north to Buladelah.

So, equipped with a new co-driver, a new Modena dog box ,new Dunlop tyres and and new note system, the car left time control heading for the first stage. The aim for the weekend was to bring the car home straight,learn from Dale and not get caught up in the times too much.

All was going well until 10km into the first stage when I pulled the handbrake at a tight hairpin left and suddenly the clutch and brake pedals went to the floor. So for the last 7 km we had no brakes or clutch! Luckily, not having a clutch didnt hamper us too much as the Modena dog box enables gear changes without using the clutch. So we got to the start of stage 2 and had to start the car in 1st gear off the key which was interesting to say the least. Once we were going again the strength of the Modena gearset ensured we would make the first service and try to rectify the brake and clutch problem.

"Luckily we got the Modena dog box or our rally would have been over after we lost the clutch on stage 1," Charlie said. "It's testament to the quality and strength of the Modena product that it was able to allow us to continue and get the car back to service."

We were nearly 20 minutes late out of service, so with the time lost on the first two stages and the road penalty for being late out of service, our rally was over. This however enabled us to relax and now fully concentrate on our notes and getting the car setup right. The next loop of three stages were ok, my confidence was lacking a little on the high speed sections after the brake failure on stage 1, but we had no 'moments' and the notes and delivery were spot on.

After lunch, we had two more stages and this time we had problems with the diffs so that was again frustrating. There were then the final three stages to wrap up the event. On the second last stage I forgot to turn on the stage switch which activates the launch control, anti-lag, etc so that was more time lost even though we were third fastest on that stage I think.

So overall it was a bitter sweet event for the team. Ninth overall was not where we wanted to be but the advice and experience gained from Dale was priceless and I'm certain it will stand us in good stead in the future.

Rallyschool.com.au will continue to support the NSW State Rally Championship and provide the course cars for the Bay Stages Rally in October, so this will give us the chance to do fast sweep on notes which will give Eoin and I the opportunity to implement what Dale has shown us and we can get more competitive kilometres in the car before we head for the final ARC round in Victoria in November.

Celtic Motorsport would like to thank their supporters Rallyschool.com.au, Dashsport and Performance, Modena Race Gears and Milford Excavations. Also a big thanks to a gentleman of the sport, Dale Moscatt, for all his help and advice.

By: Charlie Drake

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