Moscatt clocks up the kilometres
Due to our distance from Europe, most Australian rally competitors find it difficult to maintain a full time rally career. Sydney’s Dale Moscatt is a rare exception and his long term devotion to the sport means that over the next four weeks, Dale will be involved in no less that 3 separate championships.
After winning the 2005 Australian Rally Co-driver’s Championship, Dale hoped to branch out further a field in 2006 and it wasn’t long before Dale’s experience and talents were recognised overseas. The current Chinese national champion driver, Xu Lang and the Honghe Rally Team were quick to sign the 31 year old for the 2006 season and it’s been all systems go from there.
A great result of second outright to Alister McRae in the Shanghai Rally was quickly followed by a trip to Western Australia and possibly the most challenging of all Australian Championship rounds, the Quit Forest Rally. While Dale is one of the top co-drivers to come out of Australia, he doesn’t just confine himself to rally duties inside the car.
Most rally fans may not realise but when the pace notes stop, most privateer co-drivers don’t just wait around for the next rally. Along with the vast amounts of paper work required for entries, sponsorship proposals, pace note development and the like, Dale also has recently had to contend with the immigration documents required for Xu Lang and also the purchase and logistics of buying a new car as well.
Over the course of his 13 years in this sport, Dale has a firm belief in giving back as much as he takes away from rallying and this month is no different. “On Friday morning I leave to head down to Ulladulla,” explained Dale. “Kelvin Croker is a good mate of mine and with the upcoming Rally Queensland being his first ARC round and also his first pace noted rally, I have a couple of days to spend with him teaching him the in’s and out’s of pace noting.”
As Dale explains, one of the great benefits of in-car camera’s now is their use during reconnaissance. “I have also left Kelvin with a DVD to watch of some practice low speed run’s we’ve done near his home and also some high speed competition runs of mine to help him get used to listening to pace notes at speed.”
“Kelvin is a very talented young driver and does very well on the road book rallies we have done together. In fact I have won a few different rounds of our NSW state series with Kelvin over the past couple of years,” said Dale. “From Kelvin’s place, I will then head further down the coast to Bega where I will be competing in an event which is a combined NSW, Victoria and ACT state round that also includes various other smaller championships including the Excel Series and the classic contingent.”
The 2006 Bega Rally has managed to attract over 100 entries with its fantastically fast and sweeping shire roads. “I won this event with Kelvin last year but this year I will be competing with Michael South in a 2005 Subaru Impreza Spec-C PRC car. This car is an awesome machine!” said Dale.
“Michael is running second in the NSW series at the moment and I will be going there to help him learn more about the car, as it will only be his second rally in a 4WD. Michael is also a great peddler and if things go well it would be nice to aim for another win but that is a tough ask with such an strong field. So we will just be out there to do our best,” said Dale.
After a hectic weekend, Dale will then leave (before dawn) on Monday morning headed for Canberra. “In Canberra I will meet up with Will Orders and his team to help out with a testing session near Yass,” said Dale. “Will has had a new diff fitted and some other technical changes to his Subaru since his last event, the Subaru Rally of Canberra.”
“I will be co-driving for him in this test to help him fine tune his setup in time for Rally Queensland. I have tested with Will in the past, and in fact with all of the ex-Pedders Suspension Rally Team and have a good relationship with Will’s current team also,” said Dale. “I am looking forward to jumping in the car with Will once again as he is right up there when it comes to natural talent behind the wheel.”
The advantage of having an experienced person in the left hand seat during testing is mainly that Dale has the knowledge to know what a car should be doing in certain situations. “I can’t fix the problem,” said Dale. “But I can help to tell the mechanics or engineers what the problem is or if something just isn’t working quite right. Sometimes the adrenalin rush of hurtling down a dirt track at 200 kilometres an hour can make concentration difficult if you’re not used to it, but I am quite comfortable in the car obviously so I can notice little things.”
“Will is also running Yokohama Advan tyres, the same as Xu Lang uses so it will be a good opportunity to share some information on that aspect, especially with Rally Queensland so close,” said Dale. “Following testing it will be three hours back home to Sydney on Monday night and to swap (pre-packed) suitcases before I head off again on Tuesday to Queensland.”
“I am looking forward to Queensland,” said Dale. “As was the case in Western Australia, it will be Xu Lang’s first time at this event but I have competed there every year for the past eight years, including winning last year’s rally. I think Xu Lang did a great job in his first event in Australia, in W.A. and hopefully with the roads having more resemblance to his native China and my knowledge of the event we can raise his confidence and help score a respectable finish.”
The team were 5th fastest on day one of the Quit Forest Rally and were headed for 6th on day two before a large rock slowed the duo on the penultimate stage. “Xu Lang is very much looking forward to returning to Australia and is very keen to jump back in our Les Walkden Rallying Lancer. The car has been repaired, after our incident with the rock and re-prepared by Ian and Les’s boys in Melbourne so it will be 100% for the Queensland event.”
From here the hectic pace continues for Dale. “On the Monday after the Queensland rally I will be heading straight up to China with Xu Lang to complete some testing work with our team up there,” explained Dale. “I will be there for around a week or so this time, at a place that will shortly become my second home over the next six months or so. The next round of the Chinese Championship series is in July and the team are as keen as Xu Lang and I to continue on the good results we started with in Shanghai back in March.”
“As you can see quite a busy schedule from here on in and then only a couple of weeks after that I will have to head back to China once again,” said Dale. “But this is my job now and I don’t really mind the travelling too much. As I am sure everyone knows I am still aiming to progress to the WRC and this is all about experience. And besides, a 16 round WRC campaign is a lot more hectic than this so it is all good practice hopefully!”
Rally Queensland begins on the 16th of June and runs until the 18th. A bumper field is heading north for the Sunshine Coast with its prehistoric Glasshouse Mountains and dusty roads, to do battle in round three of the Australian Rally Championship. For further information on the 2006 Coates Rally Queensland, please go to www.rally.com.au
Xu Lang and Dale Moscatt would like to thank their sponsors and supporters:- Yokohama Advan Tyres, Telstra Rally Australia, Coates Rally Queensland, Caltex, Bilstein Shock Absorbers, Les Walkden Rallying and Patrick Shipping.
Photo: by Joel Strickland