ARC News: Patton: “Better To Be Safe Than Sorry”

The Australia Rally Championship website has caught up with Mick to see what transpired to force his sudden withdrawal from the recent Scouts Rally SA.

“We’d completed maybe 4 or 5 runs, and on the last at the end of the straight at about 150km/h the throttle jammed on,” said Patton. “There was no danger but it was pretty scary!”

The Repco team quickly diagnosed the issue as a melted throttle cable, caused by a warped flange where the turbo joined the exhaust’s dump pipe. “We found a little motorbike shop down the road who made us up a new cable, and we managed to get back to the test road with about 30 minutes to go.”

“We had two runs and everything felt good but then it stuck again,” Patton added. “We basically then sat down as a team and looked at the decision that we needed to make.”

Patton explained that his choice to withdraw from the event on the spot was both one of the most difficult and the easiest decisions he’s had to make in motorsport.

“As a driver you want to stay and run, but I’m not in the car on my own and I had to think about the safety of my co-driver, Bernie, too. We could have made another throttle cable but it would have just melted again and it wasn’t worth the risk.”

“In rallying for sure things go wrong all the time and you can drive around them. I could have lived with a clunk or a rattle but knowing that the throttle could have jammed on again on those fast roads with those massive gum trees, it wasn’t worth it,” Mick said.

With the decision made the team packed up and departed as other drivers were starting reconnaissance for the rally weekend ahead. “It was a hard decision but a smart decision. I arrived home and immediately felt like I’d made the right choice. You don’t want to run the risk of something devastating happening.”

Patton believes the warped turbo dump pipe was a result of damage sustained in Queensland that the team had failed to detect due to the tight turn around between Rounds.

“We’ve booked a full day at Wakefield next week to run the car in a safe environment. If the throttle sticks again we’ve got nothing but grass to run off in to. We’ll have a new turbo, dump pipe, gaskets, throttle cable, the whole lot fitted ready for the test.”

With five weeks until the next Round at Rally Australia Patton believes he will have his Polo back up to speed.

“Having to leave (South Australia) was for sure frustrating, we feel like we’ve worked our fingers to the bone getting the Polo to a point that’s competitive and we felt so close.”

“It’s been a struggle to get on top but we keep ticking things off the list and the good news is we’re right down to the very little things now. I’m super keen to get to Coffs because the car feels great and we’ve proven that we’re a lot closer to the drivers we’re battling around us, like Michael Boaden and Adrian Coppin.”