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Singleton Automotive Centre Caves Classic,
Hampton and Jenolan Forests,
Saturday April 8 2017

The Oberon region turned on perfect weather on April 8 for the Singleton Automotive Centre Caves Classic Rally, run in Hampton and Jenolan State Forests. 48 cars started the event with 36 classed as finishers.

Service park before the event, scrutineering, drivers' briefing
and the first car to start.

Yes, that is a red Tesla parked near the editorial Falcon wagon.
It was a long way from a power point.

The event was run in eight stages, with each of four stages being run twice during the day.

Stage 1/5 was a short loop in the northern part of Hampton State Forest, just off the road between Hampton and Rydal. There were some rough patches in this stage but they were well marked in the instructions so should not have been a problem to aware drivers. A wise man who had won a lot of rallies and several State Championships once told me "There are no rough roads, only rough drivers" and this piece of advice together with "To win, you first have to finish" has remained true over the years.

Stage 2/6 ran in the lower part of Hampton Forest, starting and finishing on Duckmaloi Road. This stage had about 400 metres of heavily rutted and eroded road, but again this was clearly marked in the instructions and shouldn't have been a problem. Photos were taken at MRC4 and MRC2 (on the second time around)

The video below shows the quality of the roads in this part of the forest. It wasn't part of the rally course, but shows Bindo Boundary Road as I drove to the intersection with Airstrip Road. The officials at the point (MRC2 on the map) had been led in over the rally route, but I used my ancient cobwebbed navigation skills to find my way there using a map. I will of course never admit to being in any doubt at any time about where I was, but I was rather glad to see that Pajero. As in golf, kangaroos are considered a natural hazard.

The next stage (3/7) ran in the western part of Jenolan Forest around Boggy Creek Road and was the longest in the event at 27 km. It included a spectator point where cars had to zigzag through left and right hand corners. There was a round of applause for the Number 15 Commodore driver who turned right instead of left but just kept his foot down and spun the car until it was pointing in the right direction.

Murphy's Law struck and the battery in my camera went flat. I always carry spares, but this time the spares were in my car about 300 metres away instead of in my jacket pocket. I'll do better next time. By the way, when the Commodore mentioned above did its acrobatics all the professional photographers with their long lenses and hiviz vests were caught out too. I don't think anybody got a shot of it.

I came back a few days later and made a video of the approach to this spot and the stretch of nicely slippery red clay beyond it. As you can see, the main road (Boggy Creek Road) which was between the left and right hand corners is not really visible until you are right there. No, I was not trying to drive at rally car speed. My old Falcon wagon knows its limitations. The relevant section of the road book is shown below the video (read from the top down).

The final stage (4/8) was in the Mini Mini area east of Jenolan Caves Road, and gave the drivers the chance to stretch out on some nice fast roads.

The organisers, North Shore Sporting Car Club, should be congratulated on running an excellent event and for their hospitality which saw many officials and competitors enjoying the food and drink at the Hampton Halfway House hotel after the event.

1stAdrian Coppin/Erin KellyLancer EVO9
2ndThomas Dermody/Eoin MoynihanEscort RS1800
3rdTom Clarke/Ryan PrestonLancer EVO9
4thJason Giddins/Katie FletcherSubaru WRX
5thRon Moore/Lachlan MooreLancer EVO6
See full results here

A report on the rally appeared in the Oberon Review on April 20, 2017

Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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