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After another hectic month, I have now arrived home after the long road trip from WA and am now getting everything ready for the first NSW state round on Saturday (May 12), in Lithgow.  

The Quit Forest Rally has been the most challenging and worthwhile rally I have ever done. The location in Busselton was really beautiful. I was able to go for a run in the morning right next to the beach, looking out onto the aqua blue water which was very calming!  

I had a lot on my mind coming into the event. I knew it was going to be a tricky rally and just wanted to get the car to the finish. At the same time I wanted to improve on my personal performance from Queensland so I struggled a bit with my nerves at the beginning of the rally. However, they soon faded after we made it through the first forest stage and I had a bit more of an idea what to expect.  

It’s hard to comprehend just what the roads are really like. I’d heard all the stories and they weren’t exaggerating – it really is like driving on ball bearings! The Mirage was really challenging to drive in those conditions; the rear almost felt as if it was ‘floating’ on the surface and would step out half way through a corner, keeping me on my toes.  

We would get to the end of a stage and the rear tyres had hardly any heat in them at all. As the day progressed I was gaining a lot more confidence and was really enjoying the fast roads.

If I thought the first day was slippery the second day was something else.  Heavy rain had made the roads were very, very wet and slippery. I hid in the truck during the morning service, having a few quiet words with myself - something along the lines of keeping it on the road. Although we didn’t finish the heat – we did stay on the road!  

We were really lucky to have fantastic zero cars and whatever they cautioned you knew you had to slow right down for. Coming into the Healthway Reverse stage I thought I was taking a tricky left hander way too cautiously, but as it turned out we only just made the corner – a testament to just how slippery the roads were!  

Off the start of every stage we were wheel spinning for the first 400m, especially the Brockman stage where the start was moved to a muddy hill – not good in a front wheel drive car!

Our hopes of gaining some points on the Sunday were lost only a few kilometres before the finish. I had in my notes a “caution 2R”, which in hindsight should have been something more like “danger slow right down 1R drive around inside”.  

It was a really wide corner and as we came up to it Dale told me to keep in, but I carried a bit too much speed into it and as we turned in the back slid out and dragged us a little wide where we fell into a boggy mud hole right in the middle of the road.  

I couldn’t believe we were stuck in the MIDDLE of the road!! There was that much mud that Dale had to climb out the window because he couldn’t open the door. The rear wheels were still on a reasonable surface but the front wheels were close to knee deep in mud. It also happened to be at a speccy point so we tried to call for help, but the spectators weren’t allowed out onto the track because of the position the car was in, so we spent a while sitting very disappointed and frustrated on the side of the road making sure all the cars slowed right down (I was terrified of a car sliding into the Mirage!).  

After a while I heard all this screaming and yelling from the crowd and realised that a group of safety marshals were running down the road to our rescue – there was hope after all! I owe such a huge thank you to those guys who did such an awesome job. They refused to give up and tried absolutely everything until in the end they virtually lifted the rear of the car and spun it around so we could push it down the hill out of the hole.  

I couldn’t believe we were actually out, I had begun to give up all hope of finishing (and still couldn’t get over the fact we were bogged in the middle of the road!!). We quickly got buckled in and I wiped the inches of mud off my feet so I could feel the pedals again and drove to the end of the stage. After all that we made it to the finish just 10 minutes out of late time. It was very disappointing, but that’s rallying.

The trip home was another adventure in itself. Just before we left for WA I went and got my truck “learners” licence so I could drive the truck on the long haul home with Dad. I was a little apprehensive as I had never driven anywhere near the distances we were about to, nor driven the truck.   

I really enjoyed the drive home. Dad and I ended up driving non-stop all the way to Sydney, which was very tiring given that the truck has no sleeper. I think Dad got even less sleep than me because I had the music turned up and my singing is pretty terrible!  

We left Busselton at lunch time on Monday and arrived home in Sydney on Wednesday night - ever so ready for a shower and proper bed.  It was really great to see parts of the country I had never experienced before and I only had a few close calls with the kangaroos.  

We ended up travelling in convoy for most of the trip with Neal (Bates) and Mum (Coral Taylor). One night I was doing the late stint with Neal in front of me, radioing the directions back to me as I had no idea where I was going, and he knew a short cut through from Port Augusta to Renmark, which had lots of intersections and turns. I’m not sure where I would have ended up without his instructions.

Now that we are home there’s no time to rest and it’s straight into getting ready for the Car Auctions Sydney Rally of Lithgow on May 12. This will be the first round of the NSW Rally Championship and I am looking forward to gaining some more pacenote experience.  

Dale came over yesterday to help unpack and clean everything. The amount of mud on the car from WA was unbelievable and we spent the whole day cleaning and I still had more to do today before the car was clean enough to start working on it. I think Dale may regret offering to help!  :) Thanks Dale.  

Although we didn’t have too many dramas throughout the weekend the boys did an awesome job, as always.  A big thank you to Bill, Trent, Shane, Mick, Frank and Dad (especially given they flew out of Perth on the Sunday night ‘red eye’ back home, had only one hour’s sleep and then went to work!).   

Thanks also to everyone involved in organising the event - I had a ball the whole weekend. My only complaint is that the week went by too quickly!

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