The rally was held on the Sunday 7th of July in the Ashley forest, and comprised of 7 special stages
Jason was unable to make the event, so Tom Holder was called in to co-drive for the rally, with Daniel Hubber, David Holder
and Clinton Zwies as the service crew and the car fuelled up and running well, we were ready to rally, or so we thought.
Scrtineering on the Saturday didnt go as planned, the scrutineers took one look at our car and started laughing well not
quite, but close enough. They found a series of safety issues with the avenger that they felt needed attending, worn steering
rack (thence the floating feeling when driving the beast), incorrect fire extinguisher mounts, incorrect safety triangle mountage,
and last but definitely not least a worn ball joint on the left front lower suspension arm. After much deliberation they decided
that they would overlook the other things if we replaced the ball joint.
That was easier said than done! The suspension had been modified and the factory replacement arm wouldnt fit! Gutted! After
a few mods and the trip back to the flat the factory arm was on but it was about an inch shorter than the modified one changed
the whole suspension setup. Thinking that this would do we headed back to the flat at 12:45am to nab some sleep before the
big day, leaving the avenger at Woodend for the night.
We picked up the avenger from Woodend on Sunday morning and proceeded, into Rangiora were the rally was to start, unfortunately
the suspension setup turned out worse than we expected, by the time we reached Ranigora and the rally start which was only
about 10km from Woodend we had worn down the front tires to about half the tread! With this not looking good for the rally
we jacked up the car with 50mins to go till the start of the rally, adjusted the toe-in as much as possible and with 20mins
to go we got the ok from the scrutineers. We were going to be racing!
The touring to the start of the first special stage was short, but unfortunately, due to lack of experience, we clocked
in 1min late because we werent sure where the time control was, time penalties already!
The first stage was the stage of dramas, we started off well getting a bit of speed up around the corners, then Dad made
me slow down! Gutted! We went slow as, with Dad warning me that if I put the car off the road in the first stage he wouldnt
be too happy! About 7kms in we got passed by the car behind us! Oh dear! Anyhow we carried on slowly picking the pace up,
getting a feel for the car, which due to the play in the steering rack and the excessive toe in wasnt exactly handling like
an Evo. We passed two cars parked up, one of which was the one that passed us, haha thatll learn ya! Anyhow coming up to a
blindish corner I stabbed the brakes and the pedal went right to the floor! Ah ha this wasnt looking good.fortunately the
corner was a mild one and we made it round, and with Dad pulling on the handbrake we managed to come to a slow halt on the
following straight. We jumped out and checked the brakes to find that the left front brake hose had burst due to the shortened
suspension arm forcing the hose to rub on the anti-roll bar.
With no tools to fix the hose then we drove the rest of the stage with no brakes passing 3 other cars which had either
crashed or pulled over due to mechanical failure, the crews of these cars must have wondered why we were going so slow!
We completed the next touring stage with Dad hauling on the hand brake for every corner, and clocked into service 12mins
late, yep more time penalties. A hose clamp on the brake cable and we were off with three brakes. I think it was on this stage
that after a ford (thats a small creek J ) there was a Subaru WRX spoiler lying on the ground
and I had to resist the urge to stop and pick it up!
The following stages were unincidental (is that a word?) with us going at a slow and steady pace, loving the open dry roads
and dreading the muddy blind corners with 3 brakes and near bald tires. On special stage 4 about 3km in coming up to a muddy
left hander, I turned in but the car understeered, I did the wrong thing and laid on the anchors (oops!) and slid the nose
into a ditch, Dad jumped out and a few spectators ran over and pushed as I gave her a bootful in reverse, we continued on
our way with only a smashed indicator lens and headlight to show, luckily.
Further stages proceeded in the now typical manner, very slowly!!! In fact at one stage, while driving into the sun we
stopped all together! (couldnt see the road due to the sunlight, translation = pansy driving!). All was slow and well to the
last stage, a repeat of a previous test, the last 400m was heading down the uphill section from the Ashley forest sprint.
Having told Daniel and the team (David) to spectate at this section , and having ensured Dad that I knew this piece of road,
I threw the car into the last section (NOT A GOOD IDEA!!!) we drifted wide, very wide, were talking touching the grass of
the big fat dont want to hit the bank wide! I held the turn and gave the Avenger a bootful as we barley missed the bank, unfortunately
due to holding the turn and giving a bootful of gas, we spun around 180 and ended up resting nicely on top of a convenient
bank, propped up by a few broom bushes, Dads words as he climbed out through the window "I thought you werent going to crash!"
Frantic waving to the somewhat amazed spectators (obviously at my brilliant car control), ensured we had a few pushers, but
the bank had other ideas and after 6mins stuck only 200m from the finish we got moving, and toured successfully to the finish
Recipe for Christchurch Rally,
- Add a dollop of dodgy suspension setup
- A large heaping of shocking driving
- Remove one front brake
- Followed by addition of a whole lot of luck
And you end up getting 3rd in class because so many people crashed out! Sweeeeet!