The Full-On Rallysport team entered the second round of the Pacific Cup in 3rd position with high hopes of a solid result.
Recce was a stretched out affair over 2 days, but shakedown was on an excellent 1.1km section of road and the team of Bruce Fullerton and Hugh Reardon-Smith were pleased with the car’s performance and ready for the event. The ceremonial start deserves a mention for the varied and spectacular entertainment arranged by the organizers. This included traditional dancing to kettle drums, firestick displays, music and dancing, the Miss Caledonia competition and smoke machines and long interviews on the start ramp.
On the first stage of 17km the Alliance Airlines Evo 9 set a very competitive time, without the crew taking any chances. “We drove fast and neat” said team principal and driver Bruce Fullerton “with no risks or moments. It was a good start.”
However, the second stage caused problems with a jump halfway through the stage. The Fullerton Financial Services Lancer took off on the crest and landed in the bottom of the dip on the right hand side of the sumpguard. This jarred Bruce’s back and put a hole at the top of the radiator. Shortly afterwards the crew had to stop to assist with Matt van Tuinen, who also suffered over the jump, and needed medical assistance.
With one more stage before service, the crew managed to get the car through and back to service where the radiator was replaced with no time penalties. The next batch of stages brought up the second problem from the heavy landing, when the steering column started to move around. Bruce and Hugh managed to fix this after SS5 and returned to service to have this properly repaired, still with some competitive times.
On the last run through the day 1 stages, the third problem emerged when the engine cut right out and left the crew stranded in the stage, eventually recovered by the local tow truck operator and a friend from Noumea with a decent 4WD, as the rain had set in and the stage turned very greasy. This engine problem proved terminal and the crew were disappointed not to be able to restart on day 2.
On return to Australia, team driver Bruce Fullerton had some vertebrae damage identified, which will keep him out of the driver’s seat until well after IRoQ, thus ending the team’s Pacific Cup campaign. “Obviously we are very disappointed” said Bruce.
“We thoroughly enjoyed the company of our fellow competitors and the people of New Caledonia, and if it had not been for one incorrectly noted jump, we would still be in the competition. Now I have to concentrate on healing my back so we can be on top form for Rally Australia in September. The team would like to thank their supporters, especially Alliance Airlines, Fullerton Financial Services and Pirelli.