Going in to the National Capital Rally which was the first round of the Australian Rally Championship for 2014, the team had spent considerable time in the off season developing a new engine package for the VW Polo, however due to time constraints the new engine had not been tested, this however was not going to be the test for the weekend, Canberra is known for its varying conditions resulting from the ever changing weather which have been known to cause chaos, the 2014 National Capital Rally was no different.
We sat down with Mick to get his overall view on how the event went and what he is looking forward to in the coming months.
Going in to the Canberra round what were your expectations, what did you want to take away from the first round in the championship?.
Expectations were to essentially see what the new engine package would achieve with the start of our development process, we wanted to take a good result from the event, finish every stage, and bring the car home in one piece bagging as many championship points along the way, however hitting the pole eliminated that :).
The Power stage was ran in reverse to the Pedders Suspension stage during rally proper. After 1 qualifying run of the Power Stage Mick and Bernie were 7sec off the pace and finished in 9th, therefore missing a spot in the Power Stage where teams can secure bonus points for the round, we asked Mick how he felt after the power stage?
The Power Stage felt quite good, I was more excited about meeting Ari Vatanen, probably concentrating on that more than the power stage to be honest, it was an interesting off-season so I had a lot of nervous energy waiting for the main game to start the next day.
The team headed back to Canberra city for the Ceremonial start which took place at the Civic Centre where hundreds of fans had gathered.
Heat 1 began exactly where we left off last years Heat 1, wet, it did not stop all day and on stage 2 Mick had an unfortunate encounter with a post which resulted in damage to the rear of the car and in effect having to drop 2 stages to fix the damage.
What actually happened in Heat 1, you bent the car? how bad was the damage? at what stage did you re-enter the heat
We came around a tight left corner and miss judged the corner, there was a steel pole off the road which we managed to hit resulting in the rear of the car being damaged, however it was repairable, just dissapointing, we limped back to service and the boys began repairing the car, this happened on stage 2 and we re-entered in stage 5
13 cars began heat 1, come the start of heat 2, 9 cars were left.
After the drama of Heat1, How did heat 2 go,?
Heat 2 was much better, not only had the weather settled, the roads were more consistent and differ greatly to heat 1, we were able to maintain the flow of the car, it was just a matter of finishing the event and gaining as many points for the season.
What can you take away from the weekend, obviously bringing the car home fairly straight and without major incidents is a positive, was it a positive event overall?
The car is handling extremely well, the best it ever has, after a full season last year we have finally come to understand the car and are able to make changes on the fly at various events, this brings confidence to both Bernie and I, we made minimal changes to the car over the weekend, we tweaked dampener adjustments as opposed to previous events where we were always trying to get close to the sweet spots, we feel we have found it now, so its a real positive for us as a team moving forward.
Going in to round 2 your favourite rally, what are you looking to achieve, what are you looking forward to the most?.
The roads around Nannup are consistently slippery, they are a consistent surface all the time which makes it easy for me to get a rhythm on and learn more about the car, we are also looking forward to seeing how the modifications we have made will go in regards to the overall performance.
The final results saw the team finish in 5th position outright, bagging a healthy 42 points going in to Round 2 the QUIT Forest Rally, which begins in just over a weeks time.
We also caught up with Stuart and Jase to see how their weekend went.
Stu and Jase seemed to have a great weekend competing in their 2nd Gravel Rally, how did they go?
The boys had a ball, they had a great time, they had no issues and were consistent and improved on re runs of stages, no damage to the car and finished in the top ten.
The team is already on their way to Busselton, with the truck having left today, Round 2 the QUIT Forest Rally begins on the 4th April in Busselton and concludes on the 6th, if you are in the area get down to the Busselton foreshore and cheer on the team.