Nursing an Evo V that was falling apart around them and encountering problems as diverse as hitting a kangaroo on a transport stage, Guy and Steve held on to extend their lead in the state championship heading into the Scouts Rally SA finale in October.
A minute and twenty seconds behind in second place was the hard-charging Galant VR4 of Gary Brown and Mike Dale. Despite gaining time on every one of the night stages and clawing back some of the gap, there just weren’t enough competitive kilometers in the dark for the experienced pair to make a serious challenge for the win.
Relative newcomers Jamie Pohlner and Ben Judd delivered a fast and consistent performance to claim the final podium position in their GC8 WRX, backing up their second place finish in the last round at the Southern Rally.
On a casual glance of the results it may seem surprising to see an Escort claiming fourth outright, but it’s not so surprising when you look into Wayne Mason’s MkII a little more. Under the bonnet lies a full house BDG Cosworth motor, and it sounded glorious as he and David Langfield pushed it to its limits over the fast Robertstown roads.
And in true classic rally spirit, where there’s an Escort out front there’s usually a Datsun not far behind and so was the case at Robertstown. Just five seconds slower over 12 competitive stages was the Stanza of Andrew Gleeson and Lisi Phillips.
Back into the 90’s era of rallying, and sixth place was claimed by the father/daughter combo of Neil and Andrea Gehan in their GC8 STI. These cars are relatively common at the moment but I wonder how long it will be until the humble WRX claims Datsun 1600-esque cult status. Maybe one day we’ll be looking back at these endless entry lists of WRX’s and wishing we could afford one, much like we do with 1600’s and Mk1 Escort’s today.
Speaking of Datsun 1600’s, Justin Friedrichs and Matt Monto slid their classic style 1600 to a very impressive seventh place in a car that’s far more in keeping with the relatively affordable technology of the day. It’s funny to look at this 1600 and the WRX of the Gehan’s above and think about how they’re pretty much the same thing, just separated by two or three decades.
Justin Lange and Ross Batson made the trip across the border from Victoria and claimed ninth place in their Pinto powered MkII Escort RS2000. Whilst not quite on the same octave as Mason’s BDG Escort, the little two-litre Pinto was still an angry force as the sound of those Weber 48IDF’s bellowed through the farmland.
The rally was building up to a climatic finish as Henry Nott and Georgie Denver traded mere seconds with Tyler/Fisher throughout the whole rally for the outright lead. After every stage one or the other was ahead by just a small margin and the two Evo 5’s went toe-to-toe for most of the event. Nott/Denver started SS9 with just a one second lead, but were sadly forced onto the sidelines halfway through the stage with terminal driveline damage. It was shaping up to be a photo finish.
Perusing the entry list before the event arguably raised more questions than it answered. At just 20 entries it was hardly a big field, but despite the low numbers were it was in my opinion one of the highest quality fields we’ve seen in a long time.
Just scroll up and take a look at the top ten outright cars and see how many of them are classics. Maybe not strictly classic or historic rally cars to the letter of the rulebook, but certainly inspired by the golden age of rallying.
I love antilag just as much as the next guy, but I’m also interested in these old cars and it seems to be the only genuine growth area of the sport in Australia at the moment. On a national level I’d much rather watch an old Merc swing through a bend with a 3/4 turn of opposite lock and a rooster tail of dust than a front wheel drive hatchback scramble for traction as it digs ruts. Just sayin’.
Robertstown is the only rally in the state championship with night stages, and every year we ask ourselves why this is so. Night stages are the best! It had rained pretty heavily about a week before the rally which meant there were still a few huge mud puddles to see.
I love watching the approaching headlights during the night stages. It gets properly dark out in the country, and when the sun dips down it gets freezing cold too. The engines just love the night air and you can see the headlight beams dance this way and that in concert with the engine revs as they rise and fall.
And then all of a sudden the lights appear around the apex, there’s a big splash as you get sprayed in mud and then the sliding beam disappears off over the hill. It’s kind of childish fun, I tried to explain it once to my girlfriend and she just didn’t get it. But I love it.
The Robertstown Rally is always a joy to attend and there’s a certain level of relaxation that comes with the familiarity of having done it a few times now. You get to know the roads, anticipating corners coming up even on the back roads as we rushed between stages. And unlike last year when the original date was rained out under a foot of water, the weather in 2015 could not have been better.
‘Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue’. I’m sure when John Muir penned this line he never imagined an old rally car roaring through the foreground, but his point still stands. This was one of those days when it was a pleasure to be out in the world, and the fact that there were rally cars too was just a bonus.
Even better than the cars or the competition is the fact that rallying gets you out into places that you never would ordinarily have gone. Standing up on Inspiration Point above Robertstown, watching the sun set over a panoramic view of the valley below with a few mates seemed to drive that point home harder than ever before.
After the last of the competition cars had been parked away and the podium celebrations were done, fellow photographer Mark Williams and I headed back up the hill to Inspiration Point. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition now to try some nighttime long exposure photography after these rallies and it’s always worth braving the cold for it.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles
Full results and stage times from the Copyworld Walky 100 can be found by clicking here
Additional photo sets of individual cars from the event are available – email firstname.lastname@example.org for samples
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