MotorMarques Team

MotorMarques Team

Friday, 03 February 2012 05:47
Published in Melbourne Desk

Winton in May

Sat 26 & Sun 27 May 201236th Historic Winton, Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, Vicwww.historicwinton.orgConducted by the Austin 7 Club with assistance from theHistoric Motorcycle Racing Association Vic.Australia’s largest and most popular all-historic motor race meeting, presents a weekend of non-stop racing featuring over 400 historic racing cars and motorbikes from the 1920s to the 1980s.  Sat 26 & Sun 27 May 2012 36th Historic Winton, Winton Motor Raceway, Benalla, Conducted by the Austin 7 Club with assistance from the Historic Motorcycle Racing Association Vic. Historic Winton, Australia’s largest and most popular all-historic motor race meeting, presents a weekend of non-stop racing featuring over 400 historic racing cars and motorbikes from the 1920s to the 1980s. Celebrations in 2012 include plenty of birthdays:110 years of Cadillac.90 years of Austin Seven, Lancia Lambda, Austin 12/4. 85 years of A Model Ford. 80 years of Austin 10 and Hillman Minx. 75 years of Volvo, Cadillac LaSalle. 60 years for the Austin Healey 100, Renault 8, Austin Champ. 50 years of Ford Cortina, AC Cobra, Austin Freeway, Triumph Spitfire, Morris 1100, Lotus Elan, MGB, Chrysler Valiant. Historic Winton highlights are: The ever-expanding Shannons Classic Car Park featuring car and bike club displays, including Pre-War sporting Rileys. Spectator access to the Competition Paddock where all the fabulous old racing machines are on open display. If you have a classic or special-interest car or bike, you’re welcome to join the spectator car park display on the Saturday or Sunday. Raceway entry fees: Sat $20, Sun $30, competition paddock $5, children 14 and under n/c. Public enquiries: Noel Wilcox ph 03 5428 2689 email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Sunday 27 May 2012Invitations are extended to join in a special display on Sunday 27th May incorporating: Historic Commercial and Military Vehicles - the older the better - free entry for commercial or military vehicles 50 years and older. U Bute Aussie Ute gathering for pre-1975 vehicles - with a giveaway pack for the first 200 utility entrants, and great trophies awarded to Aussie Utes of special interest. Friday 25 May 2012As part of 2012 Historic Winton weekend activities, invitations are extended to join in theBenalla & District Classic Car & Motorbike Tour assembling 9am on Friday 25 May at the BenallaArt Gallery. Red plate vehicles welcome. The tour concludes with a 'Shine & Show' display outsidethe Benalla Civic Centre from 3-5pm. Further information, please phone David Lidgerwood on03 5764 4291 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Proudly supported by the RACV,Benalla Rural City Council and The Austin 7 Club, organisers of Historic Winton.  
Friday, 27 January 2012 04:22
Published in Melbourne Desk

Australia Day 2012

Kings Domain, Melbourne. January 26, 2012. Photos & Story:  Bill Hunter   
Australia day 2012.  A bright and sunny morning in the King's Domain, Melbourne. Youth and freedom are required of us in our national anthem. (1st verse, 2nd line)  Motormarques set about doing its patriotic duty.The RACV organised the event reported in this article. In Sydney, the NRMA staged a similar display, where amongst other treasures was the midget speedcar originally driven by Sir Jack Brabham back in the 40s and 50s.    
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Speed cars and motor bikes, street sweepers, jeeps, old European champions and luxurious American coupes - they were all there to be admired.
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One particularly interesting car was the little black tourer shown above (2nd row from the top - to the right of the old motorcycles.) This is a 1915 Italian SCAT. The marque was successful in racing, having won the 1911 and 1914 Targa Florio.Next pictures to the right of the SCAT are the Singers - about 998 cc engine capacity. The Club had its usual brilliant display. Just returned from the Mornington Fly the Flag rally, they were, as always, sparkling and irresistable.The little ivory-coloured car next to the Singers is the rear-engined Renault 4cv from the immediate post World War 2 period. They were tiny. They had small engines (760 cc). They were made by the millions. Anybody who has ever owned one will be quick to tell you that they were 'adorable'.  To the right of the Renault is the massive Cadillac. It too seats 4 people! And right of that again is the Ford Anglia tourer with a 4 cyl (1172 cc) side valve engine. The tan and beige tourer (above, left) is a Graham Paige. Then the Alfa Romeo, and next to that is a lime green 'Scammell' street sweeper - a  utilitarian machine intended to clear Melbourne streets of horse dung.Last photo in that row shows a couple of admirers of a pre World War One Minerva - a Belgian machine with a famously large engine.
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Since the cars were placed more or less in random order, the photographer just went with the flow. Most  readers will identify the little grren tourer top left of this group. It is an Austin 7. The sky-blue two door car next to it is a Studebake from the early 1960s, and right of that are two photos ofthe magnificent little blue Senechal of the 1920s - noted for winning the Bol d'Or 3 times in succession. Its tricky front suspension and shock absorber arrangement are worth a close study! Getting it sorted was a puzzle for the present owner (it was his late father's car)In the next row, below the Senechal is the red, racy-looking Jensen, then another Austin 7, and the beige-coloured Standard tourer. The sporty red two-door car, last in this row is a Bristol probably from 1946, with an engine derived from the BMW 6.
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Top left: a line up of Jeeps.  From my admittedly slight knowledge of what classic car enthusiasts do or don't admire, I sense that American World War Two military vehicles, having played such an important role in the War in the Pacific, don't get the kind of respect that many Australians give to the great classics of Europe. The photo at the top left of this set suggests otherwise. To the right of the column of Jeeps is the bright red Prince A200 with its bonnet up, flashing its internal magnificence to all who knew what they were looking at. This car, this engine, provoked a generational switch from the reverence given to European performance cars in Australia, to admiration of the brilliance of Japanese design and engineering. Since the model of the Porsche shown in the photo to the right of the Prince, Porsche are no longer seen as suburban racers, but one of the most successful auto racing teams the world has ever seen. The photo top left of the above set is of a Lanchester from about the 1950s.  By the time this car was produced, the company had been acquired by Daimler, but this car still still carries the Lanchester badge. Then the white (ivory, surely) Thunderbird. Left hand drive, chrome, buttons and switches to dazzle any beginner, headrersts to show how up-with-it the car was, and a couple of Australian flags to let everyone know that the Americans were not getting this one back.Finally, a benevolent dragon, powered by feet, appeared - bells and cymbals - cheer and goodwill.  Farewell Australia Day 2012. See you all next year!   
Monday, 28 November 2011 02:02
Published in Melbourne Desk

Rob Roy last event for 2011

Richard Abey, Martin Stubbs and Bill Hunter. Rob Roy is about 200 km from where I live. I always have trouble finding my way there, specially with new roadworks, traffic diversions and ring roads skirting Melbourne these days. I had to use the Sat nav to get me to the Yarra Valley, Christmas Hills and Clintons Roadwhere the hillclimb has been located since 1938. Today's meeting was promoted and conducted by the MG Car Club Victoria.The weather did not look promising last Sunday 26 November. Heavy rain had fallen all the previous day, and I needed the windscreen wipers much of the time.John Coffin made a comment: " When I got here yesterday," he said, "the rain was horizontal, and this morning I heard something that I have not heard in years. It was the little creek behind us there running at full level. "Another bloke said he saw a wombat down there. That must have been quite a sight.Paul Schilling tried to start his Kawasaki-powered air-cooled car. The engine refused to start. The team cleaned the carburettor, checked the distributor, pulled out the plugs. Everything they could think of. Darren Visser waved his hand over it. The grandchildren gave the little car a push start, and the trademark cloud of white smoke began pouring from the exhausts. Loud cheers.John Gillett had no trouble with his fabulous MG K3. Graeme Raper was doing some adjustments to the So-Cal, as it would be Louise who would be driving it. A whole fleet of Austin sevens gathered together for a photo shoot. Norm Beechy was there. Graham Hoinville and commentator/driver Don Kinsey likewise. Drivers' briefing was completed and everything was ready to go by nine o'clock.Please Note - Click on the small images below to see a larger version. Sometimes a second click will improve focus and enlargement of the picture. Look for the + sign in the small circle.
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 An interesting AC undergoing restoration  John Coffin (green & black suit)  Graeme Noonan - Cooper Mk V11  Fred Greeneklee - Cooper JAP
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 Graeme Raper's George Reed Spl'Monoskate'   John Gillett's s/c MG K3  Leo Bates' magnificent F3 Lobito  Martin Stubbs talks to John Marriott sitting in his Austin 7
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 Trevor Cole having a good day in his Astin 7  Will Charlton - Fraser Clubman  Glen Bishop in his immaculate Austin 7  John Coffin - Robbins 500
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 Darren Visser - 'Cyclo'  Doug Burnip MG TC  Chris Farrell MG TC  Louise Raper in the 3990cc So-Cal Spl
Given the nature of historic car racing, it is only fit that a special trophy be awarded to drivers who have a fair bit of history behind them as well. This trophy is based on “an index of performance" and not the fastest and most expensive car. The competition is only conducted at Rob Roy and is for drivers aged 65 years of age and over. The index of performance is based on the driver's age added to the age of his or her car and divided by their best time up the hill. (Ref - Official Programme.)Of the 14 previous winners of the "Trophee" since 1997, Motormarques spotted 7 at the 20th Historic & Classic Hillclimb on Sunday 27 November 2011.Trevor Cole, Graham Hoinville. Ian Rankine, Don Kinsey, Ray Sprague, Walter Magilton, and Bill Prowse. 
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 Darryl Duff - red Chev Camaro  Darren Visser driving 'Cyclo'   John Hickford's Lancia Lambdareplica   Bill Redpath - Redpath Olds Spl
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 Graeme Noonan - Cooper Mk VII  John Gillett s/c MG K3 Ross Simmonds - Ford V8  Owen Dickson - Austin 7
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 Martin Stubb's Austin 7 - not sureit likes the heavy rear wheels/tyres   Walter Magilton - MG NA Magnette  Louise Raper - So Cal Spl  John Nash - Indy Car USA Ford
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 Philip Gray - Ford Spl  Phillip Hallo - Austin 7  Kenneth Innes-Irons  Austin 7  John Marriott - Austin 7
Some of these champion trophy-winners have raced at the legendary Templestowe Hillclimb quite a few years ago now.Templestowe was a 969 metre long track, designed and constructed in 1951 by members of the Victorian Sporting Car Club, and which was enormously popular in its day. Urban development engulfed it and the final event was conducted by the MG Car Club on 6th December 1987. I mention this because there was a giant construction at that venue in the form of giant brake shoes. This steel and concrete construction was moved to Rob Roy and its reconstruction was completed in November 2009. The event at Rob Roy described in this article was a special "opening" celebration.
Please Note: Motormarques holds a great many more photos of this event, as well as of other events presented over the years by Motormarques. Many of these are Hi-res and quite large. You are invited to Register with Us (see the Create an account box at the bottom of the left hand column on our Front Page) for more information. 
Friday, 28 October 2011 19:54
Published in Melbourne Desk

Motorclassica 2011

Photos by Richard Abey. Motorclassica is an annual event that is reminiscent of the glory days of  motor car exhibitions that heralded a 'great new era' of motoring. Held in Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Buildings - itself constructed to celebrate Melbourne's 'arrival' in the wide world of Trade and Commerce - it is one of  the most interesting automobile exhibitions of our time.Derek Bell (shown above) Is a British motor racing driver in the same league as Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Phil Hill and Mike Hawthorn. He won atLe Mans five times between 1975 and 1987 each time in a Porsche for the Rothmans, Porsche Systems and Golf  teams. He also won two World of Sports Car Championships in 1985 and 1986, and in the 12 hours of Sebring three times between 1986 and 1989. He has been described as the"the most liked driver of his generation."  From our photo you can easily see why.   
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1925 Vauxhall 30-98 OE VeloxTourer. Chassis No OE 229, Engine No OE 239 1913 Vauxhall D Type - 25 hp open tourer Auburn 1967 Fiat Dino - Pininfarina   1987 cc, V6 quad cam  engine
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Bugatti 1927 Salmson Grand Sport 1932 Fiat Ballilla 1937 Aston Martin
The 1927 Salmson Grand Sport is still much respected in Europe and  Australia. Built at  Billancourt, powererd by an 1100 cc twin cam engine, the marque won 550 races (including, in 1923, a  463 km Grand Prix at St Sebastian - covering 463 km at an average of 82 km/h.)  It appears these daysat local competition such as Phillip Island and Rob Roy. Motormarques last saw and admired it at the RACV rally to Mornington a year or two ago.(2008)DSC08395_800                                                         Sproingg !!  Holden has gone back to the future.
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Nigel Tait's 1968 Matich SR4. 550bhp. 7500 rpm.  Pre-war MG Sports Roadster 1938 BMW 328 Roadster 1959 Facel Vega - see below
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1933 Hispano Suiza HS 26Cabriolet. Part French built by Ballot  1973 GMH Torana. Repco Brabham 1968 1958 Lancia Aurelia BT 20 GT  value around $140 - 180 000
  1973 Holden Brock HDT LJ XVI Torana.  This car was first raced at Bathurst in 1973. Brock went on to win the 1973 Manufacturers' Championship and the 1974 Touring Car Championship in this car. 1959 Facel Vega - Boulevard supercar. Chrysler 360 (5.9 litre) engine. Chrysler Torqueflight automatic transmission. Power steering. Top speed 150 mph. People who owned Facel Vega cars included the Shah of Iran, Tony Curtis, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner, Ringo Starr, Danny Kay, Stirling Moss, and Pablo Picasso. 1968 Repco Brabham BT - 31. This was a one-off Brabham Formula One car built by the Brabham organisation in 1968 for use by Sir Jack in the European Formula One series. The 3 L car was not able to be built in time for the 1968 world championship, so Sir Jack brought the vehicle back to Australia and enteredit in the Tasman Series here. It first appeared at Sandown Park with a 2.5 L Repco Brabham engine. Its current owner is Peter Strauss who uses it in historic racing with 2.5 and 3.0 L engines.  
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Maserati 1960s - 3500 1966 Matra Djet V6 (? Rene Ballot France) V4 Ford engine. Vauxhall Auburn
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Alfa Romeo SS Jaguar RACV Austin 7 van Citroen DS 23
Thursday, 13 October 2011 23:22
Published in Melbourne Desk

Launceston Museum

In a recent trip to Launceston, Richard visited the National Museum of Tasmania. 
  Photos by Richard Abey
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1951 Riley 2.5 1954 Riley Pathfinder 1949 MG TC 1935 Alvis Speed 20SC
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1936 Fiat Topolino 1964 Daimler SP 250 Sports 1965 Alvis TE 21 Drophead Coupe 1977 GMH Torana A9X
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1913 Siddeley Deasy 18-24 hp 1911 Itala 14-18 hp 1913 Standard 1928 A Model Ford
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Austin 7 Citroen B14 F 1925 Alvis SC 12/50 1935 Riley Imp 
As can be seen in the photographs above, Richard photographed the placards accompanying the exhibits. A typical example is shown below.
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Tuesday, 11 October 2011 22:45
Published in Melbourne Desk

Collingrove Hill-Climb 2011

Words: Martin Stubbs.  Photos: Gerry van Leeuwen & Martin Stubbs
Trevor Cole, 1937 Austin 7 'Shaw' in the marshaling area.
It was with some trepidation that I left Melbourne at 6.00 am for Collingrove in South Australia. Heavy rain storms were still around and most of southern Australia was experiencing a series of cold fronts with high winds. I had allowed 10 hours to travel the 900 kilometers to Collingrove as I had arranged to have the gate unlocked at 4.00 pm at the site so I could camp overnight. For many years I had heard all about Collingrove and that it had similarities to the famous Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in the UK  So this was the year it was to happen and a group of the Austin 7 racing fraternity were encouraged by the Sporting Car Club of  South Australia to come across. The group consisted of Trevor Cole, John Marriott, Phillip Hallo and myself. Another Victoria  group were the Vauxhall 30/98s of Mike Hipkins, Peter Holbeach and Ron House, and the Victorian MGs of Ed Taylor J3,  Doug Keith NA Magnette and Neil Cooke PB. The only other entrant from Victoria was Grant Cowie with his  Shelsley Frazer Nash, a most appropriate car for a vintage hillclimb. Other well known Victorians visiting but not driving  were Graeme Steinfort and Nigel Tait.  
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Ed Taylor, 1933 MG J3 Jim Scammell, 1922 Essex/4. Leslie Tarnay, 1917 Dodge. Peter Thompson, 1948 Austin A40 Weir & Male Special
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Bruce Hartwig. 1932 Alfa RomeoP3 Scale Replica Geoff Redin, 1926/74 Austin 7 Kent Patrick, 1926/9 Bugatti Type 37A. Richard Creasy, 1925 Amilcar GS.
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Ian Potts, 1939 HRG Peter Wilson, 1939 Riley 12hpSpecial  Doug Keith, 1934 MG NA Magnette John Payne, 1933/39 MG J2 Special
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Martin Stubbs, Austin 7 "Mawson"    Special  Donald Penn, 1949 Rilstone Special   Trevor Cole's grandson gettingready to take over Gerard Miller, 1939 Plymouth Special 
On Sunday as the heats got underway first timers like myself to this track were struck by the differences of this layout compared to our venues in Victoria. It is narrow, twisty with tight turns one on top of the other with a coarse surface which allows for high grip levels. Collingrove is well organized and includes a return road, with only 42 entrants we got through our three runs in the morning and two in the afternoon in no time.  Competitors were grouped in classes, 'Come & Run', Group J, Group K, Invited Post War and Vintage Sports & Touring Cars. As well as these classes all Austin 7 competitors were eligible for the Kevin Shearer Formula Award - a mysterious mathematical equation to reward the oldest driver driving the oldest car. In this case the result was a forgone  conclusion, the winner being our Trevor Cole.                                                                    Loading for the trip home
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John Marriott, 1937 Austin 7 'Athey' MG Team Richard Creasy, 1925 Amilcar GS Phillip Hallo, 1930 Austin 7
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Geoff Redin fiddling Neil Cooke, 1935 MG PB Pit Lineup Grant Cowie, 1934 Frazer NashShelsley
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Peter Holbeach, 1925 Vauxhall 30/98 Trying to start the Rilstone Special 1948 Austin A40 Weir & Male Douglas Potts, 1949 HRG
Many thanks to Jim Scammell and the other members of the Hillclimb Group for making us Victorian's welcome to your wonderful Collingrove Hillclimb. The event was a great experience both on and off the track, and the weather was glorious. We would love to be back for next year to see if we can improve our times, obviously five runs was not enough to learn all the nuances of this track which provides the enthusiastic driver with many rewards.
Sunday, 02 October 2011 00:43
Published in Melbourne Desk

Wakefield Thunder

Text and photos by Lucas and Bill Hunter
For the last few weeks Motormarques has been promoting two major motorsport events in Australia - the Historic Sports and Racing Car Association event at Wakefield Park in New South Wales, and the Collingrove Hillclimb in South Australia.   Since each of them is 5 or 600 miles or more from Melbourne, we had one part of the Motormarques team going north to New South Wales, and the other part heading west  to South Australia.   The HSRCA attracted a field of  some of the greatest cars in the country, participating in 38 events.   Wakefield Park, you would have to say, is a bit off the beaten track. It's not that far out of Goulburn and the big Merino (a giant concrete ram you can climb into if you want. )   We walked across muddy ground and paid the entrance money. The ticket mentioned that Wakefield Park is "The best spectator track in Australia", which could be true, but I think that the Haunted Hills track near Morwell in Victoria would go close to equalling it.
Above: TVR M
I spotted a fine looking TVR on a trailer, just near the entrance.  It was shown on the entry list as a 1972 TVR 2500M.They’re not all that common a car, and I had to look them up in a book later on to find something about them.   TVR started off in the 1950s in Blackpool, England, producing kit cars. They had a multi-tube frame and a fibreglass body. TVRMs came later, fitted with Triumph 2498 cc and Ford 2944 cc engines .   There was another TVR M at the meeting - David Price's 1972 car.I had a word to Bill Donoghue, who was taking a coffee break while another TVR nearby (See car No 82 - left) was being prepared for racing.It was fitted with a cage that looked very neat and strong. Apparently the job had been done by a friend of Bill”s.   “A bloke from Sydney?"   " No. He's from Canberra. He's a rally fanatic, and he does a lot of work on a lot of cars in the Canberra area "   On the subject of trailers, I later had a word to Wes Dayton who was roping his MG TC to one. He was getting ready to head back to Sydney.   It was quite a few years since we last met. I couldn't see the 1960 TR3A he normally drives.   "It broke on Friday. Nothing too serious."   I hadn’t seen this MG before. Wes told me a bit about it. He built it up from scratch with parts he had got from all over the country.   "The chassis was hanging in someone's garage for about 20 years. It took us seven years to build it. It is entered in a special CAMS class called Lc* ""This is a class for cars that have a racing history and are in the likeness of the car that the guys are used to drive."   "The car you're looking at has all standard TC parts - all the way back. The chassis was straightened but it is standard as is the transmission, differential, driveline, everything."   I asked him where were all the cosmetic bits.   "Never had them. All the bits came from different places."   "Are you going to race it again today?"   "No. I've got to get home." MG TCs featured in another category at Wakefield. The 'Aussie Special' Group that attracted Dick Willis' Stewart MG, Syd Reinhardt's 'John Blanden' Special,John Gillett's Special, Bob Boast's TC-powered Special, Richard Townley's Patterson/Bryden TC,  Brian Parkinson's 'The GAF', and Chris Farrell's Special. The Aussie Specials category was truly magic, attracting, amongst other famous machines, the 1935 Kleinig Hudson shown below.* Confederation of Australian Motorsport - (Lc - Square Riggers - This group caters for “square rigger” sports cars (primarily MG TC) where it was common practice to remove the windscreen, mudguards and headlights and run as a racing car, at the whim of the owner. One-off special type vehicles constructed at any time after 1 January 1940 but prior to the end of 1960 are also catered for in this group. ) 
Above: David Roberts in the 1935 Kleinig Hudson
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 22:10
Published in Melbourne Desk

Rally Australia 2011

Text and photos by W S Hunter A few weeks ago, the Hunter family decided to unload our free airline miles and head up to Coffs Harbour to go and see Rally Australia.  This was the third WRC in Australia which we have been fortunate enough to see. The first time, when Lucas was only 7 was WRC 2002 in Perth. You might remember that this was the rally when Francois Delecour famously launched his EVO VIII at very high speed into a tree, which ended with his Mitsubishi 4G63 engine over 100 metres down the road. We also had been to the 2009 WRC which was unfortunately marred by protests from a bunch of unhappy hippies in Nimbin. Hence, we were very much looking forward to this event, which would be a “first” for Australia in many different ways, including the new 1600 cc WRC cars, the new Mini entrant, a chance to see Ken Block do his thing. Add to this a nice classic car field to round it out, and a chance to get some sunshine into the system, and what more could you desire? We actually arrived on Thursday, 1 day before the rally started, which was a good thing as we got a chance to settle in and see some of the shakedown stuff happening. By a complete fluke we decided to head into the Bucca stage (SS21-24) on the off chance that any teams were practising in the forest. After a stiff walk up some steep hills (in thongs – not a good idea) we arrived at a magnificent spot, very close to the shakedown actions somewhere in the forest with a handful of police on trail bikes watching the ARC field going through multiple practise runs. Highlights were the unbelievably fast EVO X of Dowell and Lee (now running an unrestricted turbo and rumoured to be putting out 400 HP), the insane-revving Civic Type R driven by Eli Evans, and a very quick looking RWD Nissan 200SX punted along by Will Orders. If you get a chance to see these cars at Rally Victoria later this years, I highly recommend it.  After that, rally spirits were high as we arrived later that evening at the first super special stage. I don’t normally enjoy these things, however the sight of the WRC cars with exhausts and brake discs glowing red travelling very rapidly around tight twists and turns was spectacular. The new Mini Countryman piloted by the young Brazilian driver Daniel D’Oliveira sounded fabulous, but seems a little off the pace. I have to admit though, I was expecting more spectacle from Ken Block, but perhaps due to a local shortage of gorilla suits and rocket-powered Segways from the local Coates hire outlet, Ken couldn’t quite get his Mojo happening. Comment of the night from the expert commentary team – “…some of these competitors are running 30,000 Watt driving lights!”. Hmmm, looks like I’m going to need a slightly bigger alternator for the Stanza then – say about 2500 Amps should do it, but at least I should be able to light up the MCG.  Friday morning saw us head over to the Shipman’s stage to view the first forest stage of the WRC. We purchased “enthusiast passes”, which are much better spectating points and no more expensive than the general admission passes. The officials warned us that the spectating point contained more than a few paralysis ticks, and leeches – the former with a fondness for burrowing in to gentleman’s parts. One of our party (who shall remain nameless) experienced the joys of this, with a few fire-ant bites added in to the groin region for extra good measure.  This was a superb spectator point. Unusually for a WRC stage, the spectators were allowed right up close to the cars (within 2 metres) as they approached a 90 degree left hander over a fast downhill section. Several drivers (Solberg P, Ogier, Loeb) cut the corner, nonchalantly putting the car on two wheels as they did so at an insane speed which I can only say defied the laws of physics. Both leading Fords were missing front guards, in Latvala’s case a lucky escape from an altercation with a barbed wire fence which nearly ended his rally. Poor old Ken Block was out of the rally already – not even 10 kms into the first stage, victim of hard tyres on slippery clay roads which some of the competitors described as like a dog trying to walk on wet lino. Wimps, I say. Let ‘em run the next WRC in the Heathcote area after a big deluge. Then they’ll find out what “trees close to road” and “slippery clay” really means. In reality these Coffs Harbour roads looked superb. Big wide shire roads (like Bega) with the trees well off the road, and the road surface hardly cutting up at all. How hard could it be?  After watching the rest of the field go through we went back to the service area at the airport. If you have never been to a WRC before, service is also a must. It is incredible to think of the logistics involved in getting these factory WRC teams to an event, and the humongous set ups involved. We watched Ken Block’s Fiesta being unloaded from the back of the truck, looking rather sad. You can get an idea of how hard he hit a rock at the side of the road from the fact that the rear brake disc was cracked in half. No problem, after a few bazillion dollars worth of new brakes, panels, suspension etc, Ken’s car was good as gold again. Next casualty into the service park was Loeb’s Citroen DS which he had rolled multiple times (an event which occurs about frequently as Footscray winning a grand final). Due to the unusual nature of this event, as the car came in on the back of the truck, the entire Ford service team rushed over to see it, madly trying to photograph some of the Citroen secrets, and duly being shooed away by the Citroen team. Later in the day we heard that Ogier had also gone out, leaving the rally as a lay-down misere for the Ford team, which they subsequently capitalised on. Final interesting site at the service park was a bored and solitary Japanese Honda engineer at Eli Evans tent. Poor guy. Anybody could have told him that no Honda VTEC engine has ever broken, and you could drive one from here to Pluto and back on the rev limiter and it wouldn’t even use a teaspoon of oil.   Next day (the Saturday) we headed down the Pacific Highway to Nambucca Heads to watch SS11, the Talarm Hall stage. We kindly let Novikov’s Fiesta have right of way into a roundabout, and duly followed him about 65 kms down the road which was a delight to see and hear. I thought how nice it was that Novikov had managed to keep his Fiesta intact on the slippery Friday when Loeb and Ogier had crashed. I spoke to soon, but here is a camera phone shot from the car (possibly one of the last) of the Novikov WRC Fiesta still intact on the Saturday as we drove behind it.Now here is the same car after the “Plum Pudding” stage, later that day. Possibly this helps to understand why Dale Moscatt declined further participation as Evgeny’s co-driver in the WRC. rally20113Novikov rated this accident as the biggest of his career, blaming the crash on an incorrect pace note. Before the rally, his co-driver Giraudet had said about the  stages “It’s really something special, very fast with a lot of cuts. The trees are very close to the road and when you hit a tree on your door it’s not so friendly but it’s part of the game. You can’t cut all the trees.” Now I don’t know about you, but if my co-driver said to me that hitting a tree on your door was all “part of the game”, I would be a bit anxious. And I would have thought that you couldn’t cut any of the trees, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Given that Novikov’s Fiesta was probably worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars, and given his tendency to crash, I wondered who Novikov’s deep-pocketed sponsor “ALM Russia” was. I googled it, and got onto a Russian site called “Automatic Love Matching”, a place for many young Svetlanas, Olgas, Natashas and so on, all anxiously seeking Western gentlemen. So perhaps the cost of wrecking so many Fiestas is easily borne via “rally love” after all. Anyway, I digress. The Talarm Hall stage was a beauty with the cars coming around a fast right hander up a hill and into a fast 90 degree left hander. Petter Solberg was driving on the ragged edge. The Fords (Hirvonen and Latvala) were cruising along comfortably in the lead, while Loeb and Ogier were trying to play catch up. Tidiest looking driver was Matthew Wilson (Fiesta), with both he and the “The Sheikh” (Al Qassimi, Fiesta) having their best events and placings yet. Prize for“testicles out” driving went to the Porsche 911 in the classics field driven by Jeff David Probably not exactly a cheap car, but being driven with great verve and gusto. We left on Saturday afternoon, delighted to have been part of such a spectacular event, and with the mid coast NSW towns all strongly behind the event generating a lot of good vibes around the place. Great to see lots of kids and dads standing out on the Pacific Highway in the morning to watch the rally cars go by on their liaison stages. If you get a chance to see it in 2013, and have not been to a WRC recently, I can’t recommend it highly enough. RESULTS (Happily for fans of the Blue Oval, and great result from Hayden Paddon in 6th ):
Pos No Driver   GroupClass StageTime Penalties TotalTime DiffPrev Diff1st
1 3 M. HIRVONEN M A0 3:35:59.0 0.0 3:35:59.0 0.0 0.0
2 4 J. LATVALA M A0 3:36:13.7 0.0 3:36:13.7 +14.7 +14.7
3 11 P. SOLBERG M A0 3:36:43.8 0.0 3:36:43.8 +30.1 +44.8
4 5 M. WILSON M A0 3:44:44.2 0.0 3:44:44.2 +8:00.4 +8:45.2
5 10 K. AL QASSIMI M A0 3:48:32.3 0.0 3:48:32.3 +3:48.1 +12:33.3
6 38 H. PADDON P A0 3:53:08.3 20.0 3:53:28.3 +4:56.0 +17:29.3
  - Bill Hunter