Tarmac Magazine’s “Targa Scholarship” recipients, Al & Marti Walker, have had a difficult start to the inaugural Australian Tarmac Championship. The Walker Motorsport duo, driving their Volkswagen Mk IV R32, completed the Mt Buller Sprint in the competitive Modern BS2 class, with a fifth place finish in class and 36th place outright in a field of some 80 entries, beating home a slew of more fancied opponents after early dramas put the team's weekend in jeopardy.

The weekend started badly for the team when the transport company shipping the car down to Mt Buller destroyed the rear hatch window on the car. Luckily for them, Dean Coutts from Volkspower was able to source a second hand replacement and bring it up the mountain. The crew from High Country Smash Repairs in Mansfield fitted the glass and the car passed through tech inspection late on Thursday evening.

After the early dramas the team were raring to go, and following a good run in the prologue, they had consistent early runs on Friday and Saturday. The team steadily built up pace, improving by around six seconds per run until a suspension issue late on day two and early on day three saw them lose time and momentum in rounds 6, 7 & 8. Once the problem was identified and fixed the Walker Motorsports duo set their quickest time of the weekend in round 9 and then brought the car home safely in round 10, ready to be shipped down to Tasmania for round two of the Championship at Targa Wrest Point in late January.

Commenting on all the dramas of the weekend, navigator Marti said, “Without the help of the close knit tarmac rallying community we wouldn’t have even been running this weekend. Dean and the crew from Volkspower really came through in the crunch and got us back in the running by finding a replacement window for us, so we can’t thank them enough, and David from Ambulance Private and the service crew saved us a second time with the suspension.”

Al added, “For our first event this season I’m happy that we finished but disappointed we lost momentum on Saturday due to the suspension problem. Before then the car was brilliant and I was happy increasing my pace each run. Then the car just got really loose and I could only drive it at around 50% without it wanting to spin out. A half spin in the last run on Saturday lost us another 10 seconds but we still couldn’t pinpoint the problem.”

“I initially thought it was just the tyres going off or the road getting slippery due to the heat, so I was resigned to just back off for the rest of the weekend and finish, but when we were driving down on Sunday for the first run of the day I could hear a persistent rattle from the front left. A quick check at the bottom showed the issue to be a loose strut and we tightened it as best we could until the service crew up the top could fix it properly.”

 “Once that was done we were right back on our pace and set our fastest time of the weekend so who knows where we could have finished in class had we not had the issue. At the end of the day though, that’s motorsport. We had a great time and we finished and I’m happy the car is in one piece for Wrest Point in January.”

“I’d like to congratulate Dean Herridge for a fantastic win in class and Dean Coutts for punching way above his weight in the Volkswagen Mk V APR GTI and congratulations to the Whites as outright winners and to all the other class winners.”

“Finally a huge thanks to the local community for supporting the event as well as the State and Local Government, CFA, Victorian Police, The AASA, Mountain Motorsports, Octagon and the Race Solutions crew, without all of these people we wouldn’t be able to have our fun so THANKS to all of you for letting us compete.”

“To all the competitors and new friends we met, it was a brilliant weekend and despite all our dramas we had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the competition and camaraderie and we’ll see you all at Wrest Point in January.”

The team is already hard at work for the next round and is considering a new tyre brand for Wrest Point and beyond and are looking forward to working with the supplier to get the best out of the cars. Keep watching this spot for a future announcement. We would like to thank David at Ambulance Private, the “Hurry Up to Wait” service crew, Tarmac Magazine, and our sponsors Fast Mustard, Hornibrook Motorsport, Sign Masters and specially Dean at Volkspower, and everyone else who has lent a hand to get us this far.

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