It’s run and won for another year. In 2005, it ws the first true rally for the VR4, since then it’s done a few rallysprints, a whole load of khanacrosses and motorkhanas, a track day, a demonstration day, had thousands spent on it…..
And now we return for the car’s second rally a year later.
Didnt really expect to be only doing on rally a year so far, but I suppose if the Shakedown is the only one, then it’s a damn good one to be doing. Fantastic organisation, friendly people, good and challenging roads, a compact format and pace notes.
It was in fact the first time I had ever used pace notes. I have to say that I loved the experience.
The VR4 has so many incremental upgrades that it’s no where the same car as the last Shakedown. Nor was the team, Peter beign in England I had John instead – and I think that was for the best. John’s got a level head, he’s also pretty good and not a frustrated driver like Peter is.
The first stage gave me the biggest surprise – the VR4 was 3 minutes and 40 seconds faster than last year over 24.13 km. I simply was floored by the time, even with John off the notes for half the stage and a few driving errors, 17:55 is a more than respectable time. I would think dropping into 16 minutes would be highly possible.
Stage two was Gum Valley and again, comparing times to last year there was over a 1:30 improvement. A minute and a half over 9 km and an almighty moment off the road to boot as well.
Boost pressure was a long way down from what it should have been and remained that way for most of the day. At times, boost was below standard levels, so to see the times we were doing is pleasing.
Stage three was quick and short, we ran without notes as the notes we had were FUBAR. Airstrip and actually short braking myself after braking just after the 200 m sign (160 kph) means the brakes are damn good and I have no real complaints on that behalf, nor of the car’s handling. Just wish the power was there.
Stage four, and our times were getting better again, did manage to turn the boost up to 9-10 psi. Had a ball around the high speed areas and a nice big jump
Stage five, I would say this is one of the best stages I have driven – we only recce’d it once, but it turned out to be brilliant when we thought it wouldnt be. Had a lot of dust problems, but still managed to stay close to required pace. I have to apologise to Molly, I thought she gave us all the dust problems, it turned out it was Andrew who had stopped in stage. In places it was decidedly nasty as we got closer to Andrew and there was no breeze to clear the dust. Probably cost us 30 seconds but that’s rallying.
Stage six….. Headlight failure. I only had headlights from one km in. Our time was hurt as a result and I have to say that trying to keep my pace up with no real light was simply stupid. I really should have backed off more but didnt. I dont think I’ve sweated or manhandled a car as much but it paid off as by this point we were 6th outright.
Stage seven, Lights fixed but badly aimed, got dust problems and the lights glare in my face as a result. Nearly a minute slower than daylight.
Stage eight, just that Bindo blast again, still liights issues and no notes. And by now a crushed exhaust. However, held onto 6th outright and managed to drive the car home.
Well done to all officials and organisers for a superb event, well done to the Lada crew for perservering.
Did anyone see a nude girl in Stage 6? My co-driver claims there was one. And never saw Matt’s cow, I bet it was already off to the pub to be turned into dinner.
So in summary, did much better than I expected, still could have done better but of course that’s all part of development and learning. I am going to fix the damn boost pressure problems and get a light pod, there’s no way I want to drive at the speeds I was with shoddy lights again.