A Killer Out Of The Box
Winning the 2010 Victorian Off Road Championship and the Mallee Shield for Production 4WD Class was a
real buzz for us. A lot of hard work and development has been put into the Patrol. As you know with Motorsport, if you're not going forward you are falling behind.
In the off season we wanted to work on the chassis of the Patrol. The old one was full of cracks and old welds and to be honest it was really soft and flexi. The balance of the car would change and was really spongy to drive. If you like, a bit like firing a marshmallow out of a shot gun.
So the plan was to build a new one and make some changes to the way it all worked. The build continued and like all good projects it turned into a mammoth project with challenges coming from all quarters.
Let's fast forward to the first race for us for the year, at Avalon.
It's a nuggetty little track that tests the driver and breaks cars. It's short and mean and has a really, really bad temper. The surface is basically rock and clay, grippy until it turns to dust, then like ice.
We love this track for testing because in the 2.5 km track you'll see everything that the rest of the year will show.
As the race day drew closer, the reality was we were behind in preparations. We worked our butts off to get the Patrol ready. Finally at 2:30am on the morning of the event, the Patrol was rolled out of the shed for testing. With our eyeballs hanging out of our head, we selected 1st and rolled down the street.
The headlights flickered and off we went. I was thinking to myself, brakes are soft, pedal is low, clutch grabs too early, doesn't steer well, the lights failed...ooopise now I can't see..
I rolled back to the shed and said to my brother who was helping me prep the car...This is a bucket of bolts that needs to be dropped off a cliff not raced. Let's call it a night...
7am came and we woke to the sound of the alarm, its race day. My wife and navvy Karen said come on let's go. I said I think this thing is evil and not to be raced.
She said well we need to test so let's give it a try and see what comes. Let's just go for a run and see what happens.
A good call, the voice of reason spoke, so with that we crawled out of bed and got ready to race.
Arriving at the race track (20 mins from home) one of the guys that has been a real helping hand, Rod Knight from Barwon Automotive, approached and said “How is she Foxy?" I said “Roddy, it's a bag of bolts mate and it's evil ." He replied “Well then you should be able to get along with it just fine."
I gotta love his sense of humour!!!!
Lining up for the 1st Heat Karen reminded me we were out for testing and to dial the car in, so let's see how it goes.
The flag dropped on Heat 1 and we seemed to be making good pace. The teams that started 30 secs in front of us came up and were passed inside the first 3 of 7 laps. The car had good drive and speed and seemed to work in race mode.
The steering was all over the place as we chased suspension, the balance we needed was in the shocks and the sway bar in the rear end. Mental note to self, make some changes and these will do us for the next race.
We caught the guy in first place and ran out of laps to be able to make a move.
Heat 2 was a similar affair, the balance of the car was coming to us in terms of the adjustments, it was a case of letting the race and the setup come to us. Same result in Heat 2.
During the lunch break, a few people came up to me and were asking about the Patrol and where we had found the speed from. The keys are; corner speed, grip, drive and torque... and that's what we've been chasing all along.
After 2 Heats we had destroyed the front Geolander MT001's, the surface slipping had caused understeer and hence the edges had been rolled over.