With this being our ‘home’ King Of’ event, we got on site early on the Wednesday to erect the largest pit setup we’ve ever had. I wanted everything in place early so all we had to do was focus on what we were there for – racing!Photo Credit Anna Baxter
After the setup was complete the Thursday seemed to take for ever to pass! It finally did and we were on to Friday, the first day of the event. After watching the SXS boys ripping around the prologue course it was time to put on the suit and helmet for our go. For the first time I’m aware of we actually got to have a slow parade lap around the prologue course which was fantastic! It gave all drivers and co-drivers a chance to get a feel for what was coming.
We all lined up to have our go at the prologue to determine where we would start on the Saturday morning.
I had a game plan. I wanted to be out…….
of the top 15 where the Ultra4 guys would be battling it out at a very fast pace early on. We didn’t need to get caught up and start racing cars that were not in our class so the aim was to qualify just outside the top 15 and be the first car of the line in Legends class! So the flag lifted and we were off, taking it steady in the first corner and then exiting the main arena to take on the twisty forest tracks and open cat-one tracks! It was awesome, the car was eating up the ground and feeling good. We soon caught up with the dust from a car that set off about two minutes before us, so we knew we had good pace. We crossed the line and got placed 16th overall and first in class! The plan had worked, almost scarily too well!
Saturday came and we were poised and ready on the start line with fellow Legends racer Mike Robertson alongside us. We had the better line off the start and a few more ponies to play with so we let them rip and got a clean line in to turn one before attacking the forests and adverse camber that lay ahead. We soon hit the dust from the cars in front and pushed on to see what was ahead and make a gap to the cars behind. We darted off the main tracks and in to some greasy, gnarly dark climbs up through the forest. I initially wondered if we would be winching early, but the car made it easy and we were soon about to join the main tracks again.
As we approached the final climb, Sylvain was on the main line about to winch so we went high and tried to drive it. Unfortunately, we then slid sideways down and came to rest touching each other and blocking the track. A few blips of the throttle and we knew we were not going backwards or forwards without a bit of winching. I deployed Ed on to the winch rope and after many failed attempts of finding something strong enough to winch off we became physically connected to Sylvain’s car. We had managed to get his rock slider wedged inside the rock ring on my driver’s side rear wheel which in turn took out the valve and we now had a flat to compound the situation.
With the help of both co-drivers we freed the two cars and got to the top and changed our wheel. At this point I knew the weekend was not going to be as good as the prologue run the night before. We were now right at the back of the field.
We got the wheel changed and got back on the gas and steadily clicked the miles off! Before long we caught up Moose Offroad and as he went to take a shunt on a corner we took the inside line and hit the rock trail just before him and then came to a grinding halt due to traffic. We soon drove the rock trail and then climbed out of it and passed some more parked-up cars.
Knowing the site I knew the next obstacle was going to be the main rock steps, and with the cars that passed us it was going to be a world of pain due to the traffic that would be waiting. A few corners later we approached the rocks and the traffic jam. That tyre change had really hurt us and got us caught up in traffic which I was hoping to miss by qualifying where we did, but that’s racing!
After a good half hour to 45 minutes we had one step to go and then… bang! The rear upper link on the suspension failed and bent the rear suspension components in all directions. Thankfully Richard Nicolson and Kev Pocock were on hand to help us clear the car off the line and off the course. Paul Jones from Prolinx was spectating and made an immediate return to the pit area to be ready to rebuild the rear shock absorber for me so we could get back in the game for the night stage!
Before long, Paul Church and Skins had been despatched to us by control and had us loaded up and heading back to the main pit area to get the car glued back together! As soon as we landed we ran the busted wheel down to Kevin at KK Mobile Tyres and within minutes the tyre was repaired and ready to go back on. Darren and the guys worked hard on the car and soon had it back on all four wheels and the suspension pointing where it should be! So the first session really didn’t go well or last long for us, and we had to sit and watch the clock and wait for the night stage, which was a reverse run of the prologue from the night before.
More to follow……
Check out onboard footage on our you tube channel HERE