South Australian Rally Championship 2012 Season Launch

It seems like just a few months ago that we were at Jarvis Subaru, launching the 2011 rally season with great anticipation. A lot has happened in the past twelve months in the rally world – new events, new cars, old favourites and a battle for the championship that came right down to the last stage of the year at Kuitpo. There’s no less anticipation this year, in fact there’s possibly even more with a whole range of new cars and competitors, a new event and the national shift toward 2WD cars. The 2012 launch night was a good kick off, and gave a really interesting insight into what we can look forward to in the coming months.

There are quite a few interesting cars coming out for the championship. The one I’m probably most excited about is Jeremy Browne’s Mini Cooper S.

Jeremy has owned the ‘Butter Bug’ since 1969 and has campaigned it extensively since then, including a few years of competition in Europe. It lay dormant for the past little while, but will probably make it’s debut at the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally before a few outings on the dirt.

As of next year 4WD vehicles will be ineligible to win the ARC. This is already filtering down to the state championships, and along with the increased focus on the historic championship we are seeing a real resurgence of classic rally cars.

We’re entering a new age of Australian rallying, and I for one think it’s exciting. As much as I love the sound of antilag cracking in the forest, 4WD cars aren’t really that exciting to watch. The future is going to be filled with highly strung naturally aspirated engines pulling high revs, and classic rally cars sliding sideways through the forest, their Weber carburettors barking. Perfect!

Is there anything more iconic than a freshly prepared Datsun 1600 gravel car?

Guy Tyler has a new car and a new team. The 777 Rallysport team will be chasing victory in their RenaultSport Clio 182.

It’s a pretty serious and nicely prepared car, and Guy has a real shot of doing well both at a state level and in the national RallySchool Australian Junior Challenge.

James Rodda is back again for another shot at the state title. He came tantalisingly close last year.

This year James has a combination of both Claire Ryan and Samantha Stevens calling the notes in various events.

Dan Day is also back, this time in an S&J prepared STI in APRC specs.

This clean STI coupe has just been built for tarmac events. It’s absolutely beautiful.

The paintwork is first class, better than a lot of show cars. Immaculate.

There are of course a whole lot more new and interesting cars, however we don’t have the space here to introduce them all. Maybe material for a separate post if there’s time, or maybe we’ll have to wait for the first event….

… which will be Rally Wattle Range, held down at Millicent over April 13 and 14. The event will consist of a super special on Friday night, followed by a full single day of competition on Saturday. The event promises some fantastic stages, one of which will be tarmac and will have cars racing along the beach road through the middle of Millicent. I will definitely be there with the camera for that one – capturing rally cars racing right along the crashing waves on the beach will be something not to miss.

Round 2 is the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally from May 18-20, which for this year moves to a full three days of competition. Prologue will once again be at Mallala, with a full day of stages on the Friday. The service park is no longer at Penny’s Hill Winery, and will instead be at Victor Harbor on Saturday and the hills village of Macclesfield on Sunday. It’s interesting to note that after the recent ban on motorsport in the Alexandrina Council area, wounds are slowly being healed due to the fantastic efforts of the AHTR team. We may yet see stages run this year in this council area.

Round three will be the Copyworld Walky 100 at Robertstown on Saturday June 23. The event format will be largely similar to previous years, save for a few new/modified stages. Photographers and drivers alike will be pleased to know that the three big famous jumps are still in, as described here with extra hand articulation!

Scouts Rally SA is back as round 4 on July 28-29. It is once again the South Australian round of the ARC, and for this year will move to a new CBD based service park in a bid to make the event more spectator friendly. There is also talk of a new super special stage within close proximity to the city, and my bet is that it might be somewhere near the service park in the South Eastern parklands. That’s not official word, just sayin’.

The final event of the season, Round 5, will be the Kuitpo Forest Rally on October 20/21. It will follow the convenient format of last year, with a prologue on the Saturday afternoon followed by a full day of stages on Sunday. The stages will be similar to last year, which means challenging forest tracks.

This rare STI 22B was on display. Look for a dedicated post soon.

The full range of new Subaru’s were also on display. It seems there are so many variants of every Subaru model these days that I’ve lost track. I only really keep tabs on their performance models, and I mean what is this one? I have no idea. I’m not too fussed about it though.

Busby wasn’t sure why I was taking photos of him…

… but neither of us had any idea who this guy was. He tried to take a photo of me taking a spring roll from the waiter’s tray (wtf), so I decided to fight fire with fire and hit him right back by sticking an even bigger camera in his face and taking a photo of him. That’l learn him.

The evening was capped off with a speech by Brendan Reeves and Rhiannon Smyth about their experiences competing in the 2011 Junior World Rally Championship. Driving in a field of identical M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta’s, the brother and sister duo had some fascinating stories about what it’s like to compete at the very top tier of the sport in Europe.

It was a rare opportunity to hear such a personal and in depth account of what it’s really like in the WRC. It’s good to hear that it is just like our state championship, although on a much bigger scale. Beat up recce cars are idolised, practical jokes are played and it seems most of the competitors are all good friends who enjoy a drink and a night out together once in a while. Just looking around the room, it was evident in everyones eyes that the crowd was aware that Brendon and Rhiannon truly are living the dream.

Brendon even had his own wine he was selling as a fundraiser…

… an auctioned off the actual helmet he wore during the 2011 JWRC.

Bring on the 2012 season!







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