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Despite calling Canberra home, the forests surrounding the National Capital were not kind to the local team over the weekend in round 1 of the Australian Rally Championship, the National Capital Rally.

The Ford Innate Motorsport rally team kicked off their 2013 Australian Rally Championship campaign in style with the team’s hired gun, Welshman Elfyn Evans, setting second fastest time on the opening stage but his challenge came to an abrupt end ten kilometres into SS2, when he slid a fraction wide, clipping a large rock and the Coates Hire/Rally Australia Fiesta ended up well off the road.  The damage couldn’t be repaired and Evans watched from the service park for the rest of the weekend.

The team’s regular driver, Adrian Coppin, was also in the wars. In SS1 he also hit a rock with the rear wheel and struggled through the stage with a bent rear end.

Some quick work by the team saw Coppin resume on Saturday afternoon with the rear end replaced.  The young driver, who is still learning about the car, worked hard to get his confidence back on the repeat of the Oakey Creek stage but to add insult to injury, contact with another rock bent the Fiesta’s front steering arm. 

“The car was bad enough with the bent rear beam but when I bent the front steering it was like driving a crab,” Coppin commented.  “I soldiered on to salvage some points and managed to finish Heat 1 in 9th place,” Coppin added.

Coppin re-started on Sunday morning with the goal to finish and to increase his understanding of the car and try to unlock some of the cars speed. 

“Finishing was important in terms of scoring points for Ford in the Manufacturer’s title, particularly as I was nominated by Ford to score points for them in the Manufacturer’s title,” Coppin said. ”And this car is very different to the car I drove last year so I need some miles to get to grips with the differences.”

At the end of the day’s stages the Ford Innate Motorsport Fiesta R2 finished seventh in Heat 2 and won the 1600 Cup for the event.  But the result almost didn’t happen as another close encounter with a rock in the second last stage had broken a bracket under the car.  Thankfully, a problem didn’t occur on the stages but the driveshaft pulled out several times on the way back to the finish.

“It has been a tough weekend, what with losing Elfyn so early on, and my affinity with the geology but we pushed on and scored points for Ford as well as winning the 1600 Cup, so all in all I am pretty happy,” Coppin concluded.

The team will be working flat out over the next few days to restore the Coates Hire Fiesta to its former glory so it can take part at the Top Gear Festival next weekend.

The team’s next event will be the Quit Forest Rally to be held on the infamous ball bearing stages around Busselton in Western Australia from 5-7 April.

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