Walky Stages Rally – SARC Round 5

The DNA Rallysport crew of Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams have won the Walky Stages Rally, claiming their third South Australian Rally Championship in the process. Competing over the fast and marbly roads in the Truro area an hour north of Adelaide, the crew overcame early crank angle sensor problems to convincingly win the nine stage long event.

The Rally Power Motorsport team of James Rodda and Claire Ryan were once again struck with their mystery misfire issues that have plagued them at previous events, but managed to hold on to second place throughout the event, also earning them second outright in the championship. It was a crushing blow for James and Claire, as after over 6 hours of problem diagnosis and tuning on the dyno at Graham West Workshop in the week prior to the event, they really thought they had finally found and fixed the problem.

Simon and Yvette West had an excellent result to claim their first ever podium, finishing the event in third outright position.

Past Australian rally champion Barry Lowe, co-driven by Helen Lowe, claimed fourth outright and first in the Classic class in their thundering VB Commodore. I think I’ve said this after every event, but the rumbling V8 under the bonnet of this thing sounds incredibly mean, and when on the special stage it seems to be in a perpetual state of wheelspin and sideways action, throwing up big rooster tails of dirt and rocks. No complaints from me!

And as expected, Barry needs a considerable supply of fresh Michelin gravel tyres to sustain all that sideways action. Yes, Barry actually brings more sets of rear tyres than stages to events!

In one of their best finishes yet, Neil and Andrea Gehan brought their GC8 STi home in fifth outright.

In a typically grunty drive, Dave Hall and Mandy Rudham claimed sixth in their properly quick Datsun 240Z.

Seventh was claimed by Josh Doyle and Kate Lehmann in the Synergy Rallysport Evo 7…

… with eight going to the Datsun 180B of Nev Whittenbury and Dave Rudham. Nev pushed the B hard all day, but the little 4 cylinder just couldn’t quite match the pace of the 6 cylinder 240Z and 8 cylinder Commodore on the fast stages.

The Walkerville All Cars Club did a great job of putting this event together in such a short space of time. The final round of the championship was originally planned to be the Kuitpo Forest Rally, run by SDCC, however a lot of the Kuitpo roads ended up being used for Rally SA when that event was refused road closures in the Adelaide Hills Council district. Hence, this event was conceived, planned and executed in around 4 months – a massive undertaking for a relatively small volunteer club.

One of the streets in the Truro township was transformed into the service park for the event…

… and the local primary school came out with a surprisingly professional outfit to serve hotdogs and freshly made yiros to the hungry crowds.

The roads themselves were largely fast and flowing, with big sweeping bends on billiard table smooth, but very slippery gravel. Whilst a lot of the stages seemed easy at first glance, they were punctuated by technical sections that were reached at great speed, and the odd bumpy and rocky sections that needed to be treated with care.

The straights were littered with jumps here and there…

… and some co-drivers found it easier to deal with them by simply not looking.

Henry Nott and Laura Kessner were pushing hard in the Datsun 1600 until breaking the half shafts in the afternoon stages. This will be the last event for the poor 1600…

… as in trademark 1600 style, the boot is literally falling off. There may or may not be turnbuckled chains under that foam holding the rear of the car up, we cannot confirm or deny this!

Sandy Nott and Dave Langfield were challenging for a podium position in the Evo 4 until a steering arm broke on SS07, putting them out of the event.

Smee and Damo were having a great run in the Familia until they cracked the gearbox casing, forcing retirement. But luckily they managed to win the Clubman Championship round before the casing cracked, so they still went home reasonably happy.

Heading into this event there were three crews who could have ended up as state champions, and after SS2 all three of them were having mechanical problems.

Russel Marker and Karien Heimsohn were out on SS01 with a blown turbo.

And in addition to his misfire issue, James Rodda had a split pin issue in his front brakes.

But luckily, through the power of a lot of people standing around staring at the problem, it was resolved. But unfortunately the misfire problem was still there.

I gather that co-driver Claire is giving the bird to the misfire issue, not me. Yea, that’s gotta be it…

But it was Declan and Craig who walked away with the championship, and it’s really quite an incredible feat when you think about it. Declan hadn’t competitively rallied for 2 years; Craig hadn’t co-driven for 4, and the first time that Craig even sat in the car was on the transport to their first stage at the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally. They actually won that first stage, and went on to win their first event. And despite not competing in Round 1 at Millicent because Declan hadn’t yet purchased the car, they amassed enough points to comfortably win the championship.

But their season wasn’t without its problems for sure, and Declan and Craig are both quick to point out that they wouldn’t be there without their service crew.

From the experienced…

… to the not so experienced, everybody pitched in.

The thing I love about going to these rallies is that you get to explore in great detail a section of the country that you never would normally venture to. I’ve only ever driven through Truro on my way to somewhere else, but I found the area to be one of stark, often barren beauty. The gradual rolling hills melt off into the distance, paving the way for the kinds of gravel roads that are great fun to fling a car around on. Often I felt like I was travelling somewhere completely new, but I was often only a few kilometres from the main road.

However this area doesn’t see a lot of rain, and the roads were very dusty. In this photo Phil Williams is learning that from Barry Lowe, who stalled the big Commodore and then showered Phil in a rooster tail of dust as he took off! (Thanks to Beth Caughley for the shot)

The weather was absolutely perfect on the day, especially in the afternoon when the sun cast rays of warm light, creating long shadows as everybody waited around for it to set. If you had a sunroof, you had it open.

And it was a spectacular sight when the sun did finally set as we were waiting for the night stages to begin. The colours were so intense and the air so clear that for a moment I forgot all about rally cars. It was one of those moments that interrupts whatever you’re thinking about or doing, and forces you to just stop and admire the world we live in.

But the zen moment was temporary, and soon we were back to watching big gravel slides. Nature is best enjoyed in the company of cracking antilag, right?

And it seems as soon as the night stages began, they were over, and the cars returned back to service park.

And it was bittersweet as the crews handed in their final time cards of the season – they were glad to have made it to the end of the year, but at a loss as to what they’ll do for fun over the summer break. Cricket? Pfft.

Thanks for reading Any Given Reason in our inaugural season of covering the SARC! I’d of course love to hear any suggestions or feedback for improving the coverage next year.

At the time of writing the official championship results are yet to be released. We’ll look at the results in detail and take a quick look back at the events that made up season 2012 in a future post.

The full results for the Walky Stages Rally can be seen here on our Facebook page.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom Gilbert October 31, 2012 Reply

    Excellent review, great pics. Good work...

  2. smee October 31, 2012 Reply

    Another good write up.
    After a real shit of a season trying to track down a serious miss, some fuel and tune fixes had the car on SS1 running 5th outright. Not bad for the little 1.8. We hit a faster top speed 187kph on this stage than we did at AHTR 175kph.

    We stayed around this 5th for a while venturing as high as 4th until an over run at a very loose corner on SS6. This and a loss of knowing where I was on the same stage pushed us to 6th O/R but only by 4 seconds. Bugger. We lost 25 seconds in the off.
    We hit a big rock on a blind left hander in SS4 dragged out by someone which we think caused the gearbox casing to crack.
    We did finish the clubman part of the event, but deemed it safer to sit out the last 3 stages instead of wreaking more havoc on the car. Continuing may have seen us win SARC P6. Oh well.

    We hope for a better 2013, but will see what our DPI does in relation to running in Clubman again. I ws happy to be driving within myself and placing so well.

    Perhaps 2013 will be 3rd time lucky for O/R SACS championship..

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