7 December – Robertson’s Autocross

A recently ploughed paddock greeted crews at the Robertson’s Autocross last Saturday, with the furrows left by the ripping still quite deep, causing concern among competitors and organisers alike. Driving the same line as the tractor didn’t present a problem, but when the car was turned to run across the mounds, it proved very rough and would be quite hard on suspension. All the drivers (36 in all, a really great turnout for an Autocross) got to sample the course a couple of times prior to the driver’s briefing, and a consensus was reached whereby the course would be run the same all day, in the hope that it would be flattened by the cars, and that people could sit out the first runs if they wished. The event was switched from accumulated time to fastest time of the day to allow this.

The dust was to prove a problem in the breeze, with some of the more powerful 2WD cars occasionally getting lost in their own dust (although Carl Balani didn’t have to worry about falling down a bank in this event due to not being able to see!). The course was challenging, with only a few open sections and quite a few tighter corners which some of the 4WD cars with their awesome traction had trouble negotiating. It was well described as a “busy” course by Autocross afficianado Grant Goile. Grant elected to sit out run 1 as did Merv Hatcher.

The first run through was bone rattling, with the first cars on the course doing their best to flatten it out a bit. Most everyone managed to steer clear of the markers despite this being the first Autocross for a while, and by the time the final cars went out the course had improved slightly. Signs of big ruts were however starting to from on the outside of some of the corners, which would make for interesting moments later on! Ryan Berry set the pace, 4 seconds ahead of Kevin Bell riding his Yamaha Raptor quad. Leigh Marston and Les Summerfield’s WRXs were a full 5 seconds and six seconds respectively down on the flying Berry, perhaps showing that the shorter wheelbased car was more suited to the course. Brent Sibley in the Escort (the first competitor to arrive at the event, not wanting to repeat the effort of getting to Kaiwara Road this time!) pulled one out of the hat and beat everyone else into 5th place after run 1, closely followed by Bulletin Editor Hayden Riddle in the first of the road cars, his Mazda 323 4WD. Don Mathias in the Starlet led the 0-1300cc class after the run in 7th place. John Beasley had his road going WRX next and Mike White, driving Royce Watson’s Corolla Rally car was a couple of seconds back. Carl Balani’s RX7 was moving a lot of dirt! Leading the 1600cc class was Stewart Bufton, matching times with the Mazda.

Run 2 saw Berry’s fast time of run 1 stand as still fastest of the day, but Berry still set fastest time in this run although a little slower than his cracker effort first up. It was interesting to note that the times for the majority of the competitors got slower in the second run and even slower in the third as the ruts began to get interesting. Grant Goile went straight into the lead in the small engined class, bettering the time of Don Mathias by 2 seconds. Steve Carr improved a full 10 seconds over his run 1 time, returning to the sport after a few months working in the USA.  In run 3 Brent McAllister’s Escort start to make lots of steam however it didn’t stop him getting a reasonably good time and finishing third behind Brent Sibley and Carl Balani in the big 2WD class. Mike White almost equalled his run 2 time to bring the Corolla home in third in the class.  The ruts almost caught out Michael Rope who understeered slightly ito the last corner and catching the front wheel on a rut tipped his Corolla up onto two wheels. The ladies battle was between Michelle Reid in the KE20 Corolla and club secretary Simone Trezise, another driving Royce Watson’s Corolla DX 4-AGE. Trezise led the way by 5 seconds in each run, and won the ladies certificate for the day and in doing so claimed the club ladies trophy for the year.

No-one bettered the run 1 time of Ryan Berry and he convincingly won the day from Kevin Bell’s Raptor (which was deemed not eligible for club points from the event), and Leigh Marston in the WRX. Hayden Riddle was first road car in 5th overall (despite rolling a tyre off the rim), with Grant Goile less than a second behind taking the small-engined class. Nightmare of the day was had by Merv Hatcher who elected to sit out the first run and then had tyres come off the rims in the second and third runs. A dismal day in the country for the Evo driver.

The results were as follows:

Overall and 4WD 1601cc+:
Ryan Berry (Mits Mirage) 1m34.73s – 1,
*** Kevin Bell (Yamaha Raptor) 1m38.25s ***
Leigh Marston (Subaru WRX) 1m39.78s – 2
Les Summerfield (Subaru WRX) 1m40.34s – 3.

2WD 1601cc+:
Brent Sibley (Ford Escort) 1m42.48s – 1,
Carl Balani (Mazda RX7) 1m43.58s – 2,
Brent McAllister (Ford Escort) 1m45.28s.

2wd 1301-1600cc:
Stewart Bufton (Toyota Starlet) 1m45.28s – 1,
Scott Reid (Ford Escort) 1m46.54s – 2,
Andrew Bufton (Toyota Starlet) 1m48.74s – 3.

2WD 0-1300cc:
Grant Goile (Toyota Corolla) 1m41.82s – 1,
Don Mathias (Toyota Starlet) 1m43.96s – 2,
David Fletcher (Toyota Corolla) 1m44.74s – 3.