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In Part 2 of our Rally Australia memories, we take a look at Langley Park, servicing in the bush and a difficult start for a multiple Australian Champion. * * * * *

LANGLEY PARK – MIDDLETON, TOYOTA, TAJIMA

Named the best event in the WRC several times, Rally Australia has always set standards that other events have tried (and usually failed) to better.

The Super Special Stage at Langley Park on the banks of Perth’s Swan River is an example in point. A two-at-a-time stage that included a jump, a tunnel, sweeping turns and long straights, the stage never failed to produce exciting rallying and incredible TV footage.

As the opening stage of the rally, I remember vividly Brett Middleton tearing down the tarmac of Riverside Drive, and keeping right onto the gravel surface in his Daihatsu Charade. The problem was the Brett failed to negotiate the corner at speed, sliding off the road and into a big tree that wrote off the little Charade.

Another year, it rained so heavily that Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima’s factory backed Suzuki Swift slid off on one of the tighter corners and became bogged. And there were also numerous rolls when the stage condition deteriorated and ruts developed on the tight corners.

Carlos-Sainz-and-Langley-Park

Carlos Sainz and his Ford Focus at Langley Park. Photo: Martin Holmes

But of all the memories, perhaps the most incredible is from 1995, when the speed of Toyota’s works Celicas off the start line was so impressive that it prompted an FIA investigation.

That investigation uncovered that TTE had been using an illegally modified turbo restrictor, after which the factory team were unprecedentedly banned from rallying for 12 months.

 

TAYLOR'S HEARTBREAK

Molly Taylor's consistency in 2017 was rewarded, when she went into the final round of the championship in the box seat for the title. Rallying, however, can throw up amazing uncertainty as Taylor was soon to find out.
RallySport Magazine | Australia's Best Rally Magazine

Molly Taylor's engine expired on day two of Rally Australia in 2017, costing her the title. Photo: Peter Whitten

The engine on her Subaru was soon to expire on one of Saturday's stages south of Coffs Harbour basically ending her title hopes. Though her Subaru do Motorsport team worked tirelessly to get the car back in shape, it was in vain. Coffs Harbour local, Nathan Quinn, stormed home to take his maiden ARC crown much to the delight of the local crowds.

SERVICING IN WA BUSH – MILLEN CREW

In the early days of Rally Australia there were no clover-leaf event formats or single service parks. As the rally moved from location to location, the service crews did likewise, packing up their gear and moving from place to place.

This meant that even the biggest WRC teams could be seen servicing on the side of the road in the WA bush, with rented trucks and vans parked among the trees on roads between the stages.

It all added to the glamour of the event, and gave everyone the chance to get up close to the cars and the drivers. But it didn’t always go to plan.

In 1989, one of Rod Millen’s service guys lost control of his van on one of the slippery ball-bearing covered roads, hitting a bank and rolling the vehicle.

When the RallySport Mag crew passed by several minutes later, the team members had been picked up by another service crew, leaving the van on its side in the middle of the road.

A makeshift sign that read “Don’t smoke – petrol” was further evidence of their near miss, and subsequent quick getaway.

 

BATES’ DEBUT

Neal Bates’ debut in Rally Australia was in the 1989 event – the first time Australia hosted a WRC round.

In the early days of his career, Bates was behind the wheel of a front-wheel drive Celica and had done okay, until the final spectator stage a Whiteman Park, near Perth.

Neal-Bates-and-Coral-Taylor

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor have competed at Rally Australia several times.

Running down the field on roads that were quickly deteriorating, Bates’ Celica became bogged in sand on the 32nd stage of the four-day event.

Thankfully for the future Australian Champion, his future attempts at Rally Australia were in four-wheel drive Toyotas.

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