Hayden Paddons Report on Day 1 – Rally Queensland:
Well I’m sad to report from another international event that it’s been yet another hard day at the office, but on the positive side we have at least made it to the end of the day.
Today’s first two stages started okay for us, although a big fuel surge slowed us down for the last few kilometres of stage two. Then in the third stage things turned pear shaped.
Along a fast section in the forest we hit a ford, which we had noted to take at speed, at about 160 kph. Unfortunately, with recce restricted to 50 kph and radar guns out on every stage controlling it, we had not gained a true indication of just how rough this ford was at that sort of speed; the back of the car bottomed out and a large rock went up through the rear diff, smashing the casing to bits.
Eventually the car lost drive, but we were able to get it mobile again and complete the remaining two and a half stages with just 2WD, though we still had to take it easy so we did not damage the front diff, and doing so in the end cost us over 4½ minutes.
However, we had made it back to service and the guys did a great job to get the car repaired in time and get us back on the road. A small minus was that our spare diff is only a standard road car item and the car has been a little less easy to handle since.
Never-the-less, we are still in the rally and enjoyed the competitive time we did get on the stages. In contrast to when we made our notes on recce, today the roads were mainly dry, hard and fast, but with some slippery places to catch the unwary first thing. We did set a couple of competitive stage times and on the last stage managed to sneak back into the lead of the Pacific Cup and back up to 5th in the APRC standings, having dropped back to 7th after our problems.
Tomorrow the plan is to go out and drive as fast as the car will let us and try to set some more competitive stage times. The forecast is for more dry weather which will make for some extremely fast stages with lots of grip.
Hopefully I?ll have more positive news tomorrow. There comes a point where news about our misfortunes becomes very depressing to write and for you to read, but I can assure you we still have our heads up.