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Catlins Rally 2003

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Report on the driving down in Catlins


The rally started with an early start, leaving Invercargill at 6.20am to head to Owaka on the Catlins coast for scutineering on the Saturday morning of the rally. Scrutineering was yet again a breeze, with the car not even being audited this time. In the service crew was David Holder (James wee brother) and Daniel Hubber, and with James Dad, Tom, co-driving and the video camera mounted in the car the team was ready to go!


The AR team had a rather relaxed starting time of 11.30am, as the team were seeded 63rd from 72 starters. Amongst the competition were all of the mainland series frontrunners and with a field of 72 the competition looked to be tough. Gone were the $5 second hand rally tyres used at Otago and a pair of $70 second hand beauties were attached to the driving wheels! These were the best tyres the team had ever run, so we were looking to beat some people! Hahaha. Unfortunately lack of the $$$ meant the $5 beasts stayed on the rear (who needs brake bias eh?), we were a bit gutted though to see that most people around us were attaching brand spanking new tyres, agghhh! But with this behind us we set off for the first stage.


The first one was a bit of a sprint taking just over one and a half minutes to finished, just a bit of a taste of the action to come. We set a fairly respectable time along here, but took it a bit easy just getting back into the feel of things.


The second stage was a bit of a nail biter! Wed heard that the Catlins roads were awesome, easy to read with not too many places to catch out the unwary, but this stage was a bit of a wake up! We didnt actually have any really hairy moments here, but some of the blind corners just kept on tighting! Lucky we were just going slow and getting into the feel of things, the stage ended with a slippy downhill section with a few hairpins thrown in and then finished with a nice fast open section on the flat.


A bit disappointed with our efforts on stage 2, James decided we needed to pick it up a bit on stage three. This stage had a bit of everything, fast to start with, then tightening into a slippery shaded section and then fast towards the end.

We started out strong, and got into the swing of things quickly, but trouble struck heading around a long tight left hander. The back suddenly snapped out, throwing the car into over steer and ever closer to the bank! Not good, but we held onto it and kept the gas on, until another tighter corner where it happened again! We put in down to the super crap tyres on the rear, because on inspection of the video the next day the we seem to be taking the right line in the corner, and werent going excessively fast!

Anyway the rest of the stage went fairly well, apart from a spin on a spectator corner, ooops! (driver error!!!)


Stage 4 was awesome!!!!!!! We heard rumours that it was one of the fastest in the South Island, and were a bit worried to start with, but once we got going and after a few kms we really started to wind it up! James started reading/guessing that after each brow there was a straight and the speedo started to wind up. Took the spectator corner with a bit of speed, mainly because we didnt see the bridge after it tho! We were a bit disappointed with our 165kms reading on the speedo past the speed trap (later found out we had got 167Kms past there), but after the speed trap we keep it tapped out and managed to get 175km on the speedo!!! Coming up to a slight right hander at this speed we decided to knock her back to 155kms, but much to our surprise the corner was deceptive and was slightly off camber (or at least not enough camber for 155kms) This was definitely the scariest part of the rally, with the lock wound on and fully crossed up at 150kms, oh yeh!!! Managed to hold on to it though and ended up finishing the stage with a fairly respectable time.


The remainder of the stages were as good as the first lot, stage five and six saw no problems for the team, and were awesome roads to drive.

The last couple of stages where made a bit more challenging due to the sun in our eyes, this wasnt much of a disadvantage though because all of the later runners on the stage would have had the same problem. We had one moment coming up to a tight left hander we took the corner nicely to find on the exit the sun was in our eyes and the road seemed to have disappeared! A small ride up the bank didnt slow us down much!


We ended up 31st out of 72 starters and 47 finishers, which we were extremely happy with!

Were now looking forward to Nelson, were James sister Rachel  is goin to step into the co-drivers seat, could be interesting! :s


Veiw the stage times from Catlins