To Finke or Sea Lake?
It is always hard trying to work out which events to compete at each year.
2014 June long weekend saw a bit of a changing of the guard, so to speak. Instead of the annual migration to the Finke Desert Race, of the 104 entries for the MBL SeaLake Mallee Rally ARB 350, 22 entries were South Australian crews, and of those, 5 were from Gawler Road Knights Car Club. Unfortunately 1 crew retired before even getting to the event. #80 Toby Reimann/Brett Reimann/Ian Mathison succumbed to issues at the dyno.
The weather for the days leading up to and during the event, were perfect. A cold breeze, sun during the day, then freezing nights.
The camping at the showgrounds/caravan park is always a very congenial place to be, and the whole town gets behind the event in such a great way. The town folk turn up for scrutineering, en masse, and enjoy the food, entertainment, and seeing the assorted array of vehicles on display. Both pubs had good food, although they get completely swamped, live entertainment till 3 in the morning, and the fireworks at the end of scrutiny had everyone oohing and aahing, and had all the dogs in town barking as well.
Prologue started just after 10.00 am, and was timely, but busy.
#81 James Madden/Paul Frank positioned 15th, #233 Bodie Tickner/Sam & Graham Tickner 39th, #158 Trevor Snow/Darrin Jocey-Prior 52nd and #244 Adam Tepper/John Pentland 88th. Was good to see each one cross the finish line at the end of prologue, with no major issues.
The showgrounds was rumbling early Sunday morning, with everyone leaving early to get lined up in correct starting order for the 9.30 am start.
Watching the vehicles start two at a time right in front of the timing trailer is a sight to behold, with each driver trying to outrun the vehicle next to them. Some had a brilliant start, others fudged a bit, but still got away.
4 laps of the 88 km course needed to be completed in less than 5 1/2 hours from each competitors start time.
The competitors found their groove, all slotting into a space around the track, trying to either stay in that slot, or pass vehicles wherever they could. The frontrunners, Glen Owen/Mat Ryan and Carl Haby/Brenton Gallasch were completing each lap in between 40 and 41 minutes, a formidable task for others.
The hour lunch break was endured by all, some with nothing to do, others using all that time and more on repairs, just to enable them to finish the event.
At the end of the four laps, #81 James Madden/Paul Frank crossed the finish line in 7th o/r, 5th in class. They had a few clutch issues with James posting on Facebook, “might of had something to do with jumping the big culvert with the danger signs, too fast and nearly flipping us over ONLY did it ONCE !”
#158 Trevor Snow/Darrin Jocey-Prior, who found a spot on the buggy that needed welding during their lunch break, continued to circulate in good time, and were rewarded with another finish at this event, 35th o/r and 13th in class.
#244 Adam Tepper, who hasn’t competed in a while, and with first time navigator John Pentland, completed the event, and placed 38th o/r and 6th in class. A well deserved result. Hope to see him at more events, if his work will allow him.
#233 Bodie Tickner/Sam & Graham Tickner had an on again off again affair with the track this year. Their first and third laps were completed in 47 minutes, but their 2nd and 4th took over an hour. They still finished the event in time, 59th o/r and 12th in class.
60 of the original 104 entrants finished in time, completing the event proper. Congratulations to our members, who put on a good show and were rewarded by their result.
Meanwhile, up in Alice Springs: GRKCC member Aaron James, in the #93, with navigator Brett Plant, prologued extremely well, with an 8th place. They started the event, but unfortunately their luck ran out and they did not make it into Finke.