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The blue and yellow Datsun 1600 of Carl Stewart and Anna Ritson is in the final preparation stages for this year’s Alpine Rally, run over the weekend of  25th to 27th November.

The team are hoping to dramatically improve on last Alpine’s effort where, after clipping a tree on the exit of  a fourth gear corner early in the event, the car went off the road at high speed, causing great amount of damage to the car and a huge dent to the pride.

Carl said the love affair with the Datto reads much the same as Eric Banner’s movie “Love the Beast”.

“After purchasing the car at age 17 it has become a large part of my and my family’s life, and as Dr Phil explains in the movie, the car is a camp fire for a large group of our friends. Seeing the car all smashed up and lifeless on the side of the road with the rest of the field racing by was heart breaking.

“Like Eric, after the event I took the car home and it sat all bashed up under a cover for months. The one difference to the movie is I just went home to a normal job and not a movie premier!

“After almost a year the enthusiasm to return the beast back to my pride and joy and the forests had returned. The repair and rebuild was extensive with damage to all but one door, many suspension parts and even the engine. The car made its very rushed return to the Bonnie Doon Rally this year and ran faultlessly all event. It was an encouraging return and satisfying result.”

Continuing further repairs and improvements, the team then headed north of Sydney for the first time and competed in the Bago Forest Rally, and once again the Datto performed perfectly.

“We only went up to test the car and get ourselves back up to speed, but ended up coming away with a 2nd O/R behind Nathan Quinn. Once again this event was a great boost to our confidence in the car and us as a team,” Stewart said.

With less than a week to go the team are all fired up with only a few minor things to do to the car.

“I have paid a heap of attention this year to my fitness as the Alpine event is very intense and requires plenty of stamina to stay at your best. I have also focused on having the car at its best and a known standard.

“I ran 14” tyres for many years with great results. The last Alpine we up sized to 15s which changed the car for the worse. It had plenty of grip but the gear ratios were all wrong and the 2-litre engine just didn’t have the torque to get the car going at its best, so we have returned to 14s.

“So this year the STEW///ART Datto will return with a determination to cross the finish line on the Sunday afternoon in one piece and enjoy everything that is the greatest 2WD event in Australia.”

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