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His last outing ended in a fiery retirement for Volkswagen driver Mick Patton, so much so that when he lines up at this weekend’s Scouts Rally SA he will be sporting a change of car to a Ford Fiesta R2.

“Straight after the last Round in WA I was pretty quick in getting in touch with the Volkswagen guys,” explained Patton, referring to the VW Motorsport outfit in South Africa who built his Polo, including the engine which had spectacularly failed and caught fire forcing his retirement from the Quit Forest Rally.

“When we pulled our engine apart it had a hole in the block, so we knew it was a replacement job rather than a rebuild. Luckily the VW guys had a couple of spare engines, so I was pretty quick to snap those up.”

Patton, who then spent the next month overseas, had expected the replacement engines to arrive by the end of April, leaving his team plenty of time to replace and re-prepare the car for this weekend’s Scouts Rally SA.

“That was the plan - get the engine in plenty of time, get it on the dyno, and still have heaps of time up our sleeve. Unfortunately it never worked out that way. I expected the engine to arrive by the end of April but it only arrived on Monday!”

Left with limited options, including working his team to the bone to fit the late arriving engine, or spend this weekend watching the rally action from home, Patton reached out to Kumho Tyres’ David Mills.
Prior to his confirmation earlier in the year that he’d secured a Volkswagen Polo, Patton had intended to drive a Ford Fiesta R2 supplied by David Mills. And with the Fiesta available for the weekend Patton took the decision to spare his hard working team and make a car switch.

“I’d tested the Fiesta for two days earlier in the year before I was able to lock in the VW, so I know the car, I know what’s it’s capable of and I’m hugely grateful to David for giving me the opportunity to use it this weekend,” Patton said.

“I could have pulled out all the stops and got my guys to burn the midnight oil fitting the engine to the VW, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with anything less than knowing the car was 150% perfect, so the decision then to go with the Fiesta was a pretty easy one to make.”

Patton’s co-driver Bernie Webb, was dispatched to Sydney to collect the car, and the team will undertake a brief local test prior to the rally.

“The car is super reliable, and a proven package, so I’m not expecting any surprises. It is left-hand drive, so maybe the last month I’ve spent in the US has been great practice for this weekend!” Patton laughed.

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