Round 3 of the Victorian State Championship was held on the limestone coast in South Australia, at a place called Naracoorte, about 25 kms up the road on a property called Moorex… No not XXXX, Moorex….
The surface is sandy, loamy soil held together with grass. It’s weird to drive on, downhill you can be flat out in 3rd and still struggle to accelerate. The track is set amongst picturesque rolling hills with huge spaces to pass and see what is ahead. A mix of the soil, rock, sand and did I mention more sand… oh and some grass as well.
Friday night was Scrutineering; this is where they check the cars for race worthiness and safety.
Saturday the Program started with Track Reconnaissance. Shortly after we lined up for Prologue, followed by 2 laps of the 55km track as Stage 1 of the race weekend.
Sunday was set to be 2 laps, a 30 mins break, 2 laps and a 30 min break and 1 last lap.
Wouldn’t you know it I started the Patrol and found that overnight we had developed a miss in the engine. We had gone from six to four cylinders.
We started the diagnosis of the problem replacing plugs, checking injectors etc, etc. I asked Karen to inform Race Control we would not be making it for Prologue and would apply to be seeded.
4 minutes before Prologue strangely the Patrol fired up on all 6, so we threw on our gear and got up to the start line and asked to be included.
We were 2nd to Prologue, after an ex Australian Safari Class winning GU Nissan Patrol. Prologue is 10km and a smaller version of the race track.
Launching into Prologue I could feel the Patrol had come back on song, and with the rush of getting to the line the adrenalin was pumping. At
7 kms in, we spotted the first car and closed in. By 8km we had passed it. Prologue was a blast, beating our nearest competitor by 1minute and 20 seconds over 10kms.
Still struggling with the miss before the race, we decided to roll the Patrol out for the race. Again the miss cleared itself.
Lining up to launch, the lights went out and we were into it, we got the whole shot and started to settle into the rhythm of the day.
We were making good pace and managed to haul in a couple of Extreme 2WD cars. This ended in a 3 way battle that lasted 2 laps. We all passed each other in the different sections of the track. The great thing about this sport is that we are all competitive and when you pass fellow competitors, you always have a wave for them…..the battle was great fun.
After the 2 laps we had made up 5 positions from where we started. In terms of our Class we made 15 minutes on the next guy, had a ball and wanted to keep going.
The track was starting to cut up pretty badly, setting the scene for a day of survival on Sunday.
You know, sometimes luck is with you and other times it plays out in a black way. As we were coming into the Pits there was a root that decided to puncture the sidewall of the tyre. We were running them pretty low at 27psi and at 150kmh the tyres want to roll off the rims. We caught a root and it spiked the tyre. Back in the Pits the tyre was hissing away, so we changed it. The weapons of choice for this event were the 31x10.5-15 Geolander AT’s which turned out to be awesome in the sand.
Sunday was a twist of fate, the truck would not run on 6 cylinders and in no way was it going to get better. Two guys helped me for most of the day to diagnose the issue. They were Brett Price and Lawrie Penpraze. Both worked with me for most of the day, but to no avail. A big thanks to you guys for chipping in and helping out.
As I said, some days are diamonds and some days just turn to crap…..
So we packed up and started to drive the Patrol on 4 cylinders towards home. Oh, did I tell you that we drive the truck to and from the events.
Just out of Naracoorte the engine jumped back onto 6 cylinders and ran like a dream all the way home…. Ahhhgh….
On returning home I extracted the ECU and shot it off to Vern Crawford at Dynolink in Townsville. Vern and Leah are the Australian Distributors for the Link ECU. Vern said for me to send it asap and we can get it sorted for you. The next day the ECU was winging its way to the Northern city and from there on to NZ and back.