Rally Oz 2003

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Words & Pictures by Paul  & Jo Cox

Telstra Rally Australia

Our rally started on Friday night at the Gloucester Park super special about 5 min drive from our apartment. We got there when the gates opened at 4:00pm, there was to be lots of entertainment of different sorts throughout the night. We were treated to aerobatics, parachutists, classic VWís and stretch limoís doing a tour of the stage. The Motor Sport entertainment was quite good though. In Oz there is a big thing about Ford and Holden and who is best, so they had a Ford Falcon Ute and a Holden Commodore Ute racing side by side. These beasts have 5ltr V8 engines so as you can imagine they sound great and have lots of sideways action.

            About 8:00pm the rally cars arrived, they were running in championship places so Burnsie and Sainz pitted against each other Fantastic! Canít remember who won but who cares, the build up may have been a bit slow but once the cars hit this great track the atmosphere became electric. If I had to criticise it would be that there wasnít enough cars and not enough variety, After the 15 or so  WRC cars there were only about 20 group N Subaru and Mitsubishi cars and 1 Honda  Civic.

 

            Saturday saw us venture into the great Aussie bush. Mundaring rally village was the place, about an hours drive east of Perth. It wasnít a really early start we got there about 8:00am with the stages starting about 9:00am. The way the organisers had designed the stages was good. There was two stages which was run twice13,14 17,18 and they ran parallel with each other so we watched the top cars through the first then a short walk to the next stage and you could see them again. We stayed there all day, there was some very good viewing. It differs a lot from watching the Rally GB. No traffic, car parks right next to the stage,  no big crowds and when was the last time you wore shorts to Rally GB?

The cars where run with the top fifteen reversed so one of the first cars on the road was Auriol in the new Skoda Fabia, what a fantastic little car, they go like stink and are the noisiest of the current world rally cars, ones to watch in the UK.  

            Sunday. Early start with a two hour drive south to Dwellingup rally village in the Sotico plantation better known as Bunnings yes the one with the jumps. The stages was laid out in similar format to the previous day with two stages ran twice.

We made our way up to the jumps first, we had a good view but the fence was a long way from the track. The cars were running again with the top 15 reversed and as the quicker cars come the more spectacular the jumps became, Colin getting the most air and looking very out of control with Petter a close second. Talking of Solberg you couldnít help but notice heís fan club, the barmy army as they are known. Jo and I know all the words to their chants even the ones in Norwegian.

After watching the first 20 cars over the jumps we went over to the next stage, viewing not as good as the jumps. When the stage had finished it was about a four hour wait till the next set so back to the car for some lunch.  

The next set of stages saw us down at the water splash with a good view of the jumps up the hill, it started raining about 15mins before the start which kept the dust down then the action started again.

We watched most of the cars through the stage then hot tailed it back to Perth to see the prize giving in the city centre. And there again were the barmy army, hundreds of them. And yes! It rained again, but that didnít stop us watching. The cars went onto the finishing ramp one by one.  Tommi got a loud cheer after announcing his retirement. Colin came on the ramp looking miserable. Richard seemed pleased of his result, us poms gave him a cheer!! Not much cheering for Frenchman Loeb, then the finale, Solberg screeched up the ramp, the barmy army still cheering and going wild. He was funny, he sprayed his champagne all over his fans, while Phil Mills sat back and drank his, not wasting a drop.

He gave a speech of how grateful he was of the support then all top 3 drivers and co-drivers went into a frenzy, spraying champagne everywhere.

Martin Rowe did us proud winning Group N, we gave him a cheer, although there few a few more rowdy poms further up from us.

Well folks, thatís all. A great weekend, but what do you expect living in the Sunshine State!! There are rumours that next year Rally Australia will be the last in the WRC at the end of November. Canít wait for next year, drier conditions and even warmer weather.

 

Bye for now, Paul & Jo

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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