Roberts is 2011 NSW Rally Champion
- 9th November 2011, 10:28am
Some rain leading up to the event meant dust probably wouldn't be a problem but it also meant some very slippery conditions in places! Stage 1 saw Roberts only turn in a 6th fastest time when they realised the intercom was dead on the start line. Jim shouted instructions throughout the 18km stage which wasn't a good way to start. Another 27km stage was next before service but luckily a battery swap for the intercom was made with a battery supplied by Peter Taylor. Peter Taylor won this stage but Roberts now able to hear his co-driver properly was second fastest some 6 secs behind. This set up for a day long battle between the two Peters, Roberts and Taylor.
After a quick 15 minute service Peter and Jim decided to have an attack on the next stage apart from the triple caution humps and dips! The approach worked and Roberts was fastest some 30 sec quicker than Taylor and Michael South. South had now had 2 flats and some damage and retired after this stage and Roberts now had a 20 second advantage over Taylor. The next 3 stages saw a neck and neck battle between Roberts and Taylor and only a couple of seconds were traded between the two Peters! With the final service then out of the way it was two 15km stages to go with Roberts holding just an 18 second lead over Taylor.
A big shower of rain hit the first stage just prior to Roberts (car 1 on the road) commencing. It was very very slippery with lots of standing water on the road and many mossy and clay sections. A cautious approach was called for with the State Championship in mind in these slippery conditions, Roberts just couldn't afford to slip off the road this close to the end. Roberts may have been a bit too cautious though with Taylor pulling 14 seconds out of his lead and the gap was down to just 4 seconds into the final 15km stage.
Jim Gleeson was telling Roberts the Championship was more important than the win and the soft side of fast might be called for. Peter however reckoned he could push a little as this stage wasn't so wet. He felt he still had grip in the Kumho 800's even though they were starting to wear down. About 3 km from the end of the stage the front right tyre went flat. Peter and Jim thought that's the rally win gone but had to get to the finish for the championship. Peter pushed as hard as he could with the flat and made the finish.
When Peter Taylor finished the stage Roberts and Gleeson went to congratulate him on surely the rally win but to their surprise they had actually beaten Taylor by three seconds on the stage and so had actually won the Natcap Rally by seven seconds. On top of that, Peter Roberts was now 2011 NSW Rally Champion!! Jim Gleeson, however, only finished second in the co-driver's title, having missed a round while overseas.
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