MOTHER Nature saw fit to provide an exceptional weekend of sunshine for the South Eastern Automobile Club (SEAC) to hold the latest round of the MRF Tyres SA State Rally Championship for 2021 – the PMD Race Products Forest Sprint.
Saturday was perfect for the visiting rally car drivers and supporting crew to have a look around the picturesque SEAC Park complex and take in what was on offer to tackle after the sun had set.
The rally had been prepared to accommodate travellers to arrive by lunch time to book in, then to do track recce over the three special stages that had been carefully assembled in the surrounding forest areas before returning for a vehicle assembly in the pit area and a tea break.
Action commenced at 6pm with the 23 eager teams tackling the complex layout – a daunting track in daylight and full of surprises in the dark.
Running in numerical order, former state champion Zayne Admiraal with his trusted sidekick, Matthew Heywood were the first out of the blocks and posted a respectable time of 1:53.07 seconds to set the pace for the night.
Jamie Pohlner/Adam Branford were next and showed they were serious about the weekend, stopping the clock at 1:47.03 seconds.
Dale Cagney/Matt Kirby were up for a challenge, took a quick line around the park layout, and returned with a 1:46.02 seconds run.
Nick Cagney/Ken Moore followed and blew the dust off the track with a scorching 1:44.52 run, one of Nick’s best efforts at SEAC Park and a time that would prove hard to beat.
Following teams could not beat Cagney junior’s time with Heenan/Kriesl (1:51.66), Hunt/Brown (1:53.28), Herring/Woods (1:51.25), Sims/Shute (1:53.62), Millard/Hughes (1:57.98), Harries/Pfitzner (2:07.57), Poel/Cutting ( 1:50.97), Haysman/Boorman (2:07.53), Wilson/Wilson (1:52.61), Spalding/Johnson (2:02.51), Bates/Bates (2:01.37), Mohr/Mohr (2:03.41), Campbell/Ambrose (1:54.84), Lacey/Lacey (2:01.94), Miller/Tillett (2:17.41), Wallis/Crowe (2:33.11), Webber/Bache (2:09.41), Rowe/Rudham (2:16.01) and Becker/Becker (2:17.53), showing how difficult the track can be in the cold, dark conditions.
Nick Cagney lowered his time in the second heat to 1:44.23 to top the list, with most of the teams trimming a few tenths off their first run times.
Dale Cagney had a flat tyre in the second round, which him some 20 seconds, so he set out in the third heat with the intent to make up some of that lost time.
He stopped the clock at 1:43.53 seconds and posted what would be his best ever lap time at SEAC Park to get the top spot on the time sheet and be two seconds clear of the best of the rest, Pohlner at 1:45.41 and Nick Cagney at 1:45.79.
Admiraal showed some speed for a 1:49.24, just in front of an improving Poel/Cutting (1:50.87 and 1:50.27).
Team Herring/Woods were coming to grips with the track hovering at 1:51.22, as did Campbell/Ambrose (1:51.79), Wilson/Wilson (1:52.00), Heenan/Kriesl ( 1:53.09) and Sims/Shute (1:53.27).
Some of the visiting teams were content to lock in a time and not risk the car, as a full day’s rallying still awaited on Sunday.
Fourth round times were a tad slower as the night air turned very cold and dampness set in.
Best time of this round listed against Dale Cagney/Kirby (1:44.74) a second clear of Nick Cagney/Moore (1:45.53).
Jamie Pohlner/Branford (1:46.28) headed Admiraal/ Heywood (1:48.35), Herring/Woods (1:49.20), Poel/ Cutting (1:49.74), Campbell/Ambrose ( 1:51.48), Harries/Pfitzner (1:52.19), Wilson/Wilson (1:53.10), Sims/Shute (1:53.30) rounding out the top 10 for the last run of the night.
Sunshine greeted competitors on Sunday as they set off into the first of three passes of the forest rally stages, “Limestone Corner”, “Top Gear” and “Other Side Of Tracks”.
With pace notes from the look around recce the previous day, all the top crews were on the pace from the start.
Nick Cagney, having purchased the ex-Pohlner Subaru after the last rally season, showed a clean pair of heels on the first two stages, closely followed by Admiraal, with Pohlner and Ryan Poel sharing third for the slippery first passes on each of the stages.
Pohlner claimed the top spot in stage three first pass.
After a scheduled service break, it was back into the rally, with Pohlner and Nick Cagney sharing the top spot and Admiraal just a second or two behind in third.
Another service break and crews returned for the last pass at each of the tricky stages.
The slippery conditions had taken their toll on some cars, with broken drive lines a common cause for withdrawal of more than a few, including the hot crew of Admiraal/Heywood running in third until withdrawing.
The battle continued between Nick Cagney and Pohlner, with Pohlner getting the first stage (third pass) by five seconds from Nick Cagney, but he could not repeat it in the second stage (three seconds back) and third stage (one second).
Poel took third spot in the Limestone Corner and Top Gear stages by three seconds and snuck in on the last stage by one second.
RESULTS: 1st outright, 1st class P5 Nicholas Cagney/Ken Moore in a Subaru WRX total time 49:05.07; 2nd outright, 2nd class P5 Jamie Pohlner/Adam Branford, Mitsubishi EVO 7, 49:19.74; 3rd outright, 1st class P6 Dale Cagney/Matt Kirby, Mitsubishi EVO 6, 51:17.76; 4th outright, 3rd class P5 Ryan Poel/Rebekah Cutting, Subaru Impreza RS, 51:33.85; 5th outright, 2nd class P6 Daren Herring/Matthew Woods, Mitsubishi EVO 6, 51:35.06; 6th outright, 1st class CRC Carwyn Harries/Tomas Pfitzner, Holden Gemini, 52:15.70; 7th outright, 1st class P4 Kevin Millard/Patrick Hughes, Datsun 1600, 53:30.39; 8th outright, 2nd class P4 Philip Wilson/Damien Wilson, Toyota Soarer, 53:40.27; 9th outright, 3rd class P6 Rob Hunt/Jerome Browne, Mitsubishi EVO 6, 54:20.00; 10th outright, 1st class P3 Glenn Campbell/Darran Ambrose, Renault Clio, 54:54.42; 11th outright, 1st class Classic Mark Lacey/Aimee Lacey, Ford Laser TX3 total time 55:02.06.