Saturday 26 November 2022

Rally - Silver Fern, New Zealand

Meanwhile ... in a land far, far away, on the other side of the globe, where Orcs eat rocks and Elves live under ferns, there did take place a battle of mechanical and ferociously mobile monsters.

Nothing to do with Hobbits, but all to do with Kiwis, it was of course the resumption (Covid delayed) of the annual Silver Fern Rally in New Zealand, a land of long and superb gravel roads ideal for special stage rallying. In fact it has the reputation of being the best historic special stage endurance rally in the world!

This year's event had attracted quite a few folks from 'home' with the English and Scottish pairing of James Ford and Neil Shanks winning the Silver Fern Historic Rally in the Evans Motorsport prepped Ford Escort Mk2. Neil usually partners John  Wink in the Hyundai but is also CofC for the McDonald & Munro Speyside Stages Rally.

In third place was Inverness refugee Allie MacKay (he's lived in NZ for 20 years!) with Michael Hendry, more usually seen alongside Mark McCulloch in the Scottish forests.

In tenth place was Tony Jardine with Warwick Martin and I had to mention English based posh Tony because whenever he comes north of the border he always claims Scottish blood as he was raised in Edinburgh but there were also quite a few other 'home' crews from Wales and England in the mix.

The standard Entry Fee starts from NZ 9,500 dollars (£4900) plus the medical and H&S levy raises it to 12,650 dollars (£6,535) and it is 800 dollars (£413) for the Notes. On top of that you've got to get the car there and probably a service van with spares.

In NZ, folk drive on the left and mostly speak English although the local Police are very watchful and can impound vehicles caught travelling at 'excessive speed'.

The big attraction of course is the event itself with 46 stages totalling some 931 kms (578 mls) in an 1889 km (1170 ml) road route lasting seven days. And the stages are pretty spectacular - one for the bucket list?

Silver Fern Historic Rally


1, James Ford/Neil Shanks (Ford Escort) 9hrs 00mins 23.9secs

2, Jeff Judd/Stephane Prevot (Ford Escort), +3m 19.5s

3, Ally MacKay/Michael Hendry (Ford Escort) +20m 40.8s

4, Allan Dippie/Paul Coghill (Porsche 911) +25m 18.0s

5, Simon Tysoe/Rocky Hudson (Ford Escort) +26m 28.5s

6, Keith Callinan/Ross Moody (Ford Escort) +50m 12.8s

7, Frank Tundo/Donna Elder (Ford Escort)  +1 h 00m 03.1s

8, Phil Squires/Alun Cook (Ford Escort RS1800) +1h 02m 53.0s

9, Steve Cox/Laurie Brenssell (Toyota Starlet)  +1h 17m 03.7s

10, Tony Jardine/Warwick Martin (Toyota Corolla) +1h 26m 27.1s

(( Thanks to 'Potshots Photography' and 'Silver Fern Rally' for the pics - Ford in the Mk2, MacKay in the Mk1 and Jardine in the Toyota ))

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Rally - WRC R2/5 beater?

Taking inspiration from the first overall victory by Porsche in the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally, Porsche is building a limited run of 2,500 rather special Porsche 911 Dakar cars - and there is an optional Rallye Design Package!

The Porsche 911 Dakar will sit 50mm higher than a 911 Carrera S and can be raised by a further 30 mm using its lift system and sits on specially developed Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres, 245/45 R 19 at the front and 295/40 R 20 at the rear.

The 3 litre biturbo six-cylinder engine produces some 473 bhp with a maximum torque of 570 Nm. Performance is said to deliver a nought to 62 mph time of 3.5 seconds with a top speed, limited due to the all-terrain tyres, of 149 mph.

The engine comes with an eight-speed PDK (dual clutch auto 'box) and Porsche all-wheel drive. Standard equipment also includes rear-axle steering. There are two new driving modes selectable via the rotary switch on the steering wheel - Rallye mode is ideal for loose, uneven surfaces and features rear-focused all-wheel drive, while Off-road mode is for high-clearance driving. Both of the new driving modes also feature Rallye Launch Control, which can handle loose surfaces and wheel slippage of 20 per cent.

There is a newly developed, lightweight fixed rear spoiler made of CFRP while the CFRP front lid is taken from the 911 GT3. Off-road details include aluminium towing lugs at the front and back, widened wheel wells and sills, and stainless steel plates on the front, rear, and sills. The side air intakes on the redesigned front are also protected against flying rocks with stainless steel grilles.

The roof has a 12 volt power outlet for the headlights on the optional roof rack. A roof tent is also available!

There are no rear seats, just two front full bucket seats while lightweight glass and a lightweight battery reduce its mass yet further. The car weighs in at 1,605 kgs – only 10 kgs heavier than a 911 Carrera 4 GTS with PDK.

The optional Rallye Sport Package includes a roll-over bar, six-point seat belts and fire extinguisher. The Rallye Design Package features a two-tone paint finish in White and Gentian Blue Metallic with decorative red and gold stripes and a ‘Roughroads’ logo on the doors. White rims and a red taillight strip round off the distinctive appearance.

Porsche has also stated: "It will deliver strong performance with a compelling boxer sound!" Yee-Haaa to that!!

All this can be yours for a mere £173,000 incl. VAT. Prospective customers can also order an exclusive Porsche Design Chronograph to match the vehicle - but there's no price for that as yet.

Now. Here's the thing. Does a run of 2500 cars constitute a 'Production Car' for Hill Rallies and could Santa Claus get one down the chimney?


Rally - Sorely tempted

Bought and built for three and a half grand! ... When the double Zero car running ahead of last weekend's Scottish Borders Hill Rally broke down on the first loop of stages, the Sweeper car was called in to action. Instead of running at the back it was first on the road, so I had a look.

This 2003 Land Rover Freelander with its 'K' series engine was acquired, a bolt-in cage bought and fitted, plus two new seats and harnesses - all for £3,500.

This being a 'production car' second hand seats and belts could have been used, but the two lads went for brand new. Even so, I was assured that was the total spend. Now they have a car that can contest Competition Safaris and Hill Rallies in the Production  Car class and is still perfectly road legal for clubbie navigational rallies and Targa events.

They also fitted a sumpguard but haven't beefed up the suspension points or anything else and the wee car performed faultlessly - and they both had a ball.

Now that's what I call budget motor sport.


Tuesday 22 November 2022

Rally - Hill Rally lookback

Last weekend's Scottish Borders Hill Rally was interesting and thoroughly entertaining. It's just a pity that it is a non-spectator event. That's down to particular location circumstances and if the organisers can overcome that, perhaps by using  a nearby 'public' forest stage, then other interested parties might be able to see what all the fuss is about.

Anyway, my Big Pal was indeed allowed limited visitation rights courtesy of his friends at Land Rover and Bowler Motorsport and also managed to get a few pics.

Fans of regular 'fast & furious' forest stage rallies may scoff but for an entry fee of £595 competitors had 12 Stages totalling some 93.7 miles of competitive driving contained within a total 110 mile route. The winner's time for all 93 miles of stages was 2 hours 42 minutes and 22 seconds, so average speeds were around 40 to 42 mph. That may not sound very quick, but the organisers include some additional 'tests' within the stages to keep average speeds down while adding extra skills requirements to the route. Even so, some of these bellowing beasties can easily top 100 miles an hour - and regularly do!

All stages were used twice (some sections six times) and even where there were areas of heavy braking and enthusiastic cornering, the forest roads remained relatively rut-free. Admittedly some of the hairpins did cut up, but remember we've had quite a bit of rain recently - this is November after all!

Richard Kershaw won the event outright in his Mitsubishi Evo powered Lofthouse with the raucous 5 litre Milner R5 of Johnnie Drysdale less than a minute behind and the glorious sounding 6.3 litre Lofthouse of Mark Jacques in third place. Mind you some of these one litre motorcycle engined 'sports' Utility Vehicles have a serious turn of speed too, like Ian Gregg's Polaris which finished 4th overall.

Contesting the Interclub event were seven 'production spec' Land Rover Bowler Defender 90 cars with Jamie Thwaites' overall time good enough for ninth overall had he been contesting the main Clubman event.

Of course it is still hard to beat the visceral speed and thrill of car rallies but when Forest & Land Scotland eventually price the sport out of the forests and MS UK call a halt on safety grounds, then perhaps Hill Rallies and Comp Safaris will be able to provide a replacement challenge for those adrenalin junkies who are hooked on speed and adventure.

As for spectating next year, even if my Big Pal isn't allowed in to watch, what's the betting he'll go anyway, get as close as he can, and just listen - sad, eh?

Top Ten
1, Richard Kershaw/Mason Kershaw (Lofthouse Evo) 2h 20m 22s
2, Johnnie Drysdale/Tony Rae (Milner R5) 2h 21m 16s
3, Mark Jacques/Tony Barley (Lofthouse LS3) 2h 24m 48s
4, Ian Gregg/Jason Noakes (Polaris XP Turbo) 2h 26m 58s
5, Ben Gill/Ryan Exley (TMC 5.0 Indy) 2h 36m 18s
6, Robert Patton/William Robert Bones (Land Rover 3M Challenger 88 Inch) 2h 38m 28s
7, David Brose/Graeme Morrison (Land Rover Defender 110) 2h 37m 34s
8, Henry Webster/Emrys Kirby (Land Rover Discovery) 2h 38m 49s
9, John Rennie/Ian Gray (Tomcat 100) 2h 40m 45s
10, Ross Thomas Walker/Mark Walker (Polaris RZR) 2h 43m 58s