C.E. - The Free Weekly Online Car Magazine
Round 1 Round 1 Australian Rally Super Series - Round 2 - FAI Rally of Canberra Round 3 Round 3

The Rally of Canberra invariably means a hard car breaking event, full of action and intrigue. This year's event, after a couple of lack lustre years, would also count toward the Asia Pacific Championship as well as the Australian Manufacturers Championship (not a Super Series event, so if you went out, no restart for the second day), and thus the entry was the best in years.
Australian Rally at its best! Thanks for the photographs Neil
Car one would not be lucky for Neal Bates and Coral Taylor however. The Corolla WRC suffered a holed radiator on SS3 on Friday, and ground to a halt with a very sick motor. Very disappointed Neal may have been, but it didn't stop him commentating at the EPIC Super Special stage for the remaining three days.

With the local hero out of the way, Possum Bourne and Craig Vincent took over the lead in the Subaru Australia Impreza WRC98. Chasing them hard were a group of Ralliart Lancers, various Evo's and Group A and N. Yoshihiro Kataoka and Satoshi Hayashi had the cooking version Group A Evo 6,
complete with sequential six speed gearbox. Ed Ordynski had Queenslander Iain Stewart behind the notes, while Katsu Taguchi had a left hand drive Evo 6 to challenge Ed's Evo 5 for Group N honours. He also had Malaysian co driver Ron Teoh telling him which way to go. Scotland also had a charger in the form of Dom Buckley and Neil Ewing, well known in England for a spectacular driving style, and the pair kept Possum honest (and in sight), right up to the time they crashed out of the event mid way through day 2. They were only 43 seconds behind the WRC Impreza in their four door version (not unlike Possum's other car) and had become a firm crowd favourite very quickly. Very sideways, very quick into corners, late braking and very high over jumps. Must be something in Scottish water!

Dean Herridge and Chris Randell also had motive power courtesy of Subaru, and would end the first day's rallying in front of F2 leader Simon and Sue Evans in the sensational Golf Kit Car. But the young WA driver had the car cut out half way through day 2 with fuel pump failure, and would lose 25 minutes, and eventually go OTL. The pair carried on and set very quick times once the driver had replaced the offending pump, but they had to hand the card in at the end of the leg.

Defending WA champion Dennis Dunlop once again had wife Jacquie calling the notes, and they were comfortably in the top 20 for the whole event. Various punctures and a drive shaft failure mixed in with similar fuel pump woes gave the service crew plenty of work, but they persisted and they finished a creditable 12th in the venerable Lancer Evo 1. They nearly rolled twice on one stage on Saturday, and flew higher than most on one jump. But they enjoyed themselves, and the crowd enjoyed watching them!

At the front of the field Possum held a six and a half minute lead by the end of day 2, and would have around 87 k's to the finish and a great win. However, it would not be that easy - Canberra never is! The Impreza WRC98 driver cut a corner a little more on the second pass on Sunday than he had the day before, and struck a stump which tore the left front wheel out
Possum Bourne in action
of whack. The crew had to effect quick repairs to get to the end of the stage, the next stage and then to their service crew, and they made it. But they had two punctures and a driveshaft failure on the way, and the car needed much attention, with only three stages to go. The pair lost nine and a half minutes, and handed to the lead to Kataoka and Hayashi, who had dropped a bit of time on Saturday afternoon with TWO turbo failures in three stages! But they would not be denied this victory, and they held a 2 minute 46 second lead at the end of the rally.

Group N heated up on Saturday with three stages from the end when Ordynski and Stewart broke third gear in the Evo 5. The crew had to change the gearbox at the end of the leg, and they had 46 minutes. This is a lot less than it had ever been done before according to the Ralliart Japan techs, but the Ralliart Oz boys did it in 42 minutes, keeping Ed and Iain in the lead of Group N by 47 seconds and third outright. However, it all went wrong on the same stage that caught Possum out. 'There was a bank, and we slid towards it to go around a corner, and there was a large rock and pop, down went the right front. They emerged at the next service holding with a deficit to Taguchi of over a minute, and by rally's end the pair were separated by only 23 seconds. Taguchi had won Group N his first left had drive experience, and had also taken third outright. Third in Group N an fifth outright after a steady drive was Cody Crocker, this time with Mark Stacey on notes, as Greg Foletta was overseas on business. 'We landed so hard off one jump on Saturday that I hit my head on the roll cage hard enough to give myself a massive headache!' Cody was very happy to finish the long, slippery and quick event.

Kataoka in action in the Mitsubishi

Dom Buckley in action in the gorgeous Canberra countryside
Despite finding the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) roads a lot different from the West Australian roads he drove on in Rally Australia in 1998, Kataoka san expressed great satisfaction on his biggest career win to date. And fellow Japanese Katsu Taguchi felt the same way after beating Ordynski in similar cars.

Simon and Sue Evans took on Monster Tajima in his Suzuki Baleno wagon, and after seeing him off (Tajima crashed into a tree and retired, Simon hit the same tree but managed to continue) decimated stage times and even thought about going after the Subaru of Crocker. But in the end they decided to settle for sixth outright. 'It's a bit cold in the car without a driver's window, but hey!' remarked Simon towards the end.

It was a return to the Rally of Canberra of old, and if the event takes off again it will benefit the rally community on the other side of the country, which is not as advanced in machinery as the West Australian rally scene. The rally may even get back to the days of the Vatanens and Blomqvists visiting Canberra once again. Who knows, two world class events in Australia a year can't be a bad thing!

Story and photographs kindly provided by Neil Blackbourn
You can email him at caint.com.

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