Alpine Rally of East Gippsland 2019

It’s been over a year since the Corolla turned a wheel in anger.

The Classic Ouback Trial ended with the engine being well down on power – which ended up being valve that wore out!

The car was finally back together and with new front fenders, a freshen up and clean we were ready to tackle the Alpine 2019.

A call out on FaceBook for a service crew saw Sam, Anthony and Sam join regular long distance co-drive John Fraser and Michael at Lakes Entrance.

We passed scrutiny with no issues…

As you can read elsewhere, bushfires and heavy rain shortened the event dramatically.

The Alpine Rally of East Gippsland 2019 was planned as a shakedown event to get some seat time and relearn how to drive the car – rather than it driving us.

We were seeded car 91 – further down the field that we would have liked, but without any comparible competition over the past 2 years, was to be expected. Our plan was to move up as many places as possible after the 2 stages on Friday afternoon.

Unfortunately, the first stage was halted due to a major accident, so our only chance was to use the very short Bairnsdale speedway stage to show our speed. By the time we ran, darkness had fallen, and although the stage was floodlit, it was difficult to see the first section. However, we were =72 so a good jump up the order over a 1.5k stage.

We started Saturday morning 77th on the road.

Rain fell on Friday night and kept falling on and off all day Saturday, so conditions were trecherous in many sections.

I’m not one to remember the stages as they all meld together, but the majority of the event was diabolically slippery. At the beginning of the event, I was having to catch the car most of the time – it would step out, and there would be arm wrestling with the wheel to keep it pointing in roughly the right direction. I felt I was always braking way too early, and using the throttle too lightly in many places. A heavier right foot would just spin the rear wheels and send me sideways.

However, by the end of the event, I was reading both the road and feeling the car much better, and was able to predict what it was going to do, and be prepared for it to step out. I only got caught out in one place on the last competitive section and the car kicked sideways and I let it do a 180º spin – no issue as there was plenty of run off. I heard after the event that many people had many spins.

Stages 12 & 13 were cancelled due to rain making the roads not suitable for 80+ competitive cars so the event ended at Orbost late Saturday afternoon.

As we were attempting to work out how to drive the car, I wasn’t concerned with my times and didn’t look at them until after the event.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that we’d moved from our starting position of 77 to 44 by the end of the day, and had kept a consistent pace throughout, and with some penalties applied overnight, we finished the event in 42nd place.

Here’s how we moved up the field.

  • Section
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • Distance
  • 15.90
  • 17.20
  • 15.60
  • 10.80
  • 55.40
  • 37.80
  • 15.00
  • Average Speed
  • 77.36
  • 73.01
  • 60.38
  • 67.61
  • 73.16
  • 73.96
  • 65.21
  • Stage Position
  • 57
  • =62
  • 60
  • 56
  • 51
  • 49
  • =43
  • Event Position
  • 66
  • 59
  • 54
  • 55
  • 50
  • 44
  • 42

Rallying is a team sport:

The team wouldn’t be able to do this without co-driver, John Fraser who points driver Michael Ward in the right direction at the right time!

This event provided good practice for the upcoming Classic Outback Trial where we will join up again in August 2020.

We were ably supported in the this event by service crew Sam Kayahan, Anthony Smalley and Sam Kummerle who, while thankfully not having much to do, did it with great gusto. Hope to see you on another event soon.

Events like this don’t “just happen” – the event organisers, particularly Owen Polanski and Steve Hollowood have done a fantastic job providing and event that is one of the best in the world – just ask the voice of rallying Colin Clark!