2012 Copyworld Walky 100 Robertstown

Declan Dwyer and Craig Adams have raced to a narrow victory in the 2012 Copyworld Walky 100 at Robertstown, round 3 of the 2012 South Australian Rally Championship. Driving his recently purchased Lancer Evo 6 for only the second time, Dwyer fought hard over the entire 12 daylight and nighttime special stages to claim victory by just ten seconds.

Finally breaking their reliability curse, James Rodda and Claire Ryan put in a strong, consistent effort to earn second place on the podium.

Despite looking blisteringly quick, double state champions Russell Marker and Karien Heimsohn finished exactly two minutes behind Dwyer and Adams to claim third position.

Fourth outright and first in the Classic class was Barry and Helen Lowe in the VB Commodore. This thing just has to be witnessed in person – it seems to be in a constant state of opposite lock, the powerful V8 throwing big rooster tails of rocks and dust in its wake. It does help that Barry knows how to drive it fairly well.

Dave Hall and Mandy Rudham slid the grunty Datsun 240Z to fifth outright and first in class P4. The Hall’s know what they’re doing when it comes to building Datsun engines, and the 240Z sounds brilliant as it races through the special stage.

Simon and Yvette West drove a consistent and smooth event to finish sixth outright and third in class P5.

Paul Heenan and Andrew Kriesl finished seventh outright and first in class P6.

Stephen and Simon Wade gave another solid effort which saw them finish 8th outright and second in class P6. Interestingly, the older cars such as Evo 4’s and 5’s and GC8 WRX’s are now a P6 car, a class traditionally reserved for the older and bigger Galant’s and Legacy’s.

Ninth outright and second in the Classic class went to Nev Whittenbury and Dave Rudham in the trusty 180B.

Rounding out the top 10 was Michael Busby and Steve Fisher in the RX7. Busby suffered during the night stages with spotlights so misaligned they were useless, but the car displayed good speed during the daytime to the point that they were actually the fastest 2WD car at the end of SS3, faster even than Lowe.

The talking point in the days leading up to the event was the condition of the roads. Adelaide received it’s usual June rainfall in the week prior to the event so it was widely expected that the Walky 100 would be a washout. The rain held off on the day before the event, the roads had enough time to mostly dry out and it was actually bright and sunny. There were still a few muddy patches waiting to catch unsuspecting crews out however, and SS3/SS6 was significantly shortened due to the road being impassable. This sadly meant that the 1.3km long straight was cut – Busby calculated that the RX7 is geared for 250km/h, and that this straight would have been long enough to have a serious crack at reaching maximum velocity.

For me the event started on the Friday night at the Robertstown footy club. Busby and Steve were going over their recce videos to check pacenotes, so Mark Williams and I thought it would be a great opportunity to watch over their shoulders in an attempt to pick good photo spots.

It was interesting to observe the special instructions Steve noted for this particular right hand T junction. I guess these are the sorts of secrets the top teams usually keep to themselves.

Along with a couple of photographers and the Busby crew, we ended up camping in the Robertstown footy clubrooms, which would also turn into Rally HQ the following morning. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to the three girls who were also camping in one of the corners. There was a lot of rally discussion and jokes going probably later and louder than they should have. And then when we finally went to bed and everything was quiet, somebody would fart. And then laughter would break out. And that would make somebody else fart, and so on. That’s the kind of high-brow humour we like, folks.

I guess we deserved it when Kimberley Franklin burst in and rudely woke us all up at 630am so she could set up Rally HQ. The sick part was that she enjoyed it, too.

It was seriously cold outside at 7am. Why the hell are we even out here? Mark decided to carve the reason into the ice that had formed on the roof of my car, just in case I forgot. At least he got a numb finger from doing it.

Mark, John and I went out to do a quick recce of the stages before the event started. We made sure to stop for scenery photos whenever possible.

It’s a Yin/Yang thing – for every photo of a rally car airborne, you must balance it with a serene sunrise.

But it’s totally worth the cold and lack of sleep to see rally cars doing skids and jumps. At the end of the day, it’s what we’re here for. The event itself hadn’t really changed a lot from the proven Walky 100 formula. Starting late morning, as per usual the first stage was One Big Hill, known for its famed triple jumps. Unfortunately the council had recently graded the roads and the jumps weren’t as big this year. A further 11 special stages were held into the night, with the last stage finishing at around 930pm.

Robertstown is an easy and relaxing event to attend. All of the stages have good access, excellent spectator points and are within a 15km radius of the town, and the local footy club does a mean cup of hot chicken and sweet corn soup for just $2.50.

John Kol perfected his pro photo stance.

It was heaven sent when some locals dragged a dead tree down to the jump and set it on fire. I made up the excuse about ‘doing some arty shots’ so I could go and stand next to it and thaw out. You can’t quite see it but Smee’s actually airborne there.

It was a tough event for Trent and Aaron Long. The STI ended up spinning through the tree’s and blocking the road on SS4, and from what I hear the car probably can’t be fixed. But the good news is that both Trent and Aaron are fine, so fingers crossed we see them back out again soon.

By midday it was still no warmer, and the cloudless sky only indicated an even colder nighttime was to come. Andrew Admiraal tried the poncho as a way of keeping warm – I’d say the results were mixed.

Maybe he should try something wool based next year? I don’t get these sheep – antilag doesn’t bother them, but as soon as I tried to walk over to them, they all scatter and run away. Strange.

Bruce Field’s ‘Thirsty Merc’ looked great sliding through the stages as the Zero car. Despite the mud in this photo, on the whole the stages were mostly fast and smooth.

Taking photos at a rally can sometimes be so frustrating. Here is the so called ‘golden hour’, about 5 minutes of freakishly perfect natural light that makes for incredible photos. We could hear the cars coming, but alas the first car turned up about a minute after the sun dipped below the horizon.

All we could do was to watch the nighttime shadow slowly creep in on the town of Robertstown, far below us. As the light rapidly disappeared, so did the few degrees of temperature remaining.

And then it was just the small matter of trying to figure out how to shoot cars in the dark.

On the way to a jump on the final stage we found these spectators roasting marshmallows over their fire. Once again this photo was just an excuse to thaw out for a little while.

Every time I get out of the city I’m stunned at how clear the sky is, and how prominent the milky way is. It was just so beautiful that we had to stop for a little bit of photo experimentation.

We got back just in time for the podium presentation. I was wondering if they’d still spray the champagne given how cold it was, so it was good to see the dedication amongst the podium finishing crews.

James and Claire are smiling here, although I’m not sure if they were still smiling a little later when the excitement died down and they were just cold and sticky.

Steve was full of bright ideas.

Although it was GT who invented a new way to drink a can… I don’t think it’s really going to take off somehow.

From here the championship heads to round 4, the Scouts Rally SA ARC Round from 27-29 July.

The final round of the championship, Kuitpo Forest Rally, has sadly been cancelled. I hear rumours around the place that it will be replaced by another event to be announced shortly – stay tuned for details.

All photos here, plus more, are available for purchase – even that shot of GT. Email andrew@anygivenreason.com for samples, or just to say hi.

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  1. Stephen Mee June 25, 2012 Reply

    excellent work there. The third jump saw massive air for the Mazda. The day went well but we were let down by a constant misfire in the peak torque band. Hit 5000 and it just cracked and popped. 1/4 throttle was the most we could give it and it showed.

    • Andrew Coles June 25, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Stephen! I thought it was something like that, Damo mentioned that the tune wasn't right and it just sounded off all day, but good effort for pressing on anyway. By the way - your Mazda is absolutely beautifully presented, I couldn't believe it when I had a quick look during drivers briefing.

  2. Graham OLDS June 25, 2012 Reply

    Top photos and commentary. I got to be a spectator at SS1, but had to get ready then for briefing and preparation for SS8/11 (finish control). We also had a fire going, but hardly had time to get near it. All in all, a good day.

    • Andrew Coles June 26, 2012 Reply

      Thanks! Good to hear you had a fire... I think half of the warmth is in your head, just knowing its there if you need it! I couldn't believe how cold it was as soon as the sun set on top of the range

  3. Viv Rodda June 26, 2012 Reply

    Hi Andrew- great wrapup & photos from the event! Really enjoy reading your reports!

  4. Mandy Rudham June 26, 2012 Reply

    Hello Andrew! Great shots and commentary. Loved it!

    • Andrew Coles June 26, 2012 Reply

      Thanks heaps Mandy! I hope you guys had fun, I always love watching the Z!

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