The event was held in picturesque Bright which is situated at the foot of Mt Buffalo in the north east part of Victoria. This is the teams favourite rally because of the rugged mountain roads, the beautiful scenery and the very friendly people of Bright. The event ran on Saturday 23/10/99.
The team had a less than desirable lead up to the event. It included a blown head gasket which had to be fixed on Friday just before we headed off to Bright.
After running out of brakes at the last event and never having been really satisfied with the performance of the current system, we decided to embark on a total rebuild of the brakes. With a lot of help and expensive parts from Angelo at Brake Care Frankston, some good advice from Bill at Pedders Suspension Frankston, then a final tweaking of the system by Peter Backhouse from Twin Cam Services, we ended up with a good pedal and brakes that actually pulled the car up and in a straight line. fantastic!
Not Just satisfied with helping us get better brakes, Peter Backhouse spent several hours fine tuning the motor looking for extra power. He found it ! The motor was sensational with a noticeable improvement in performance.
In the week leading up to the event there were many times when it looked like we wouldn't be able to make it to Bright but, with the championship at stake we were desperate to get there. We managed to overcome all of these obstacles along the way. But there was one problem which we couldn't seem to overcome, that was a lack of funds. Right up until 5.00 p.m. on the Friday when we were due to leave, we still did not have enough funds to compete in the event. It looked like we would have to withdraw. This of course would have thrown away the championship. Then at the last minute with some much needed assistance from Bill Bennett of Pedders Suspension Frankston we were suddenly in a position to go to the event.
We arrived at Bright just before 11.00 p.m. and booked in for the rally. We then set about getting a good night sleep.
First car was away at 9.30 a.m. We were car 30 getting away at 10.24. I noticed the improvements in the car straight away, particularly how much faster we could go knowing that we were able to stop! Our nearest competitor in the championship only took two stages from us for the day.
Our plan was simple, to go as hard as possible all day. We did exactly this even on the very rough stages where we suspected others may take it a bit easier to conserve their cars. The Escort held together beautifully, the only damage sustained were holes in the floor pan caused by some very large rocks on the track.
On a bit of a sad note the yellow Escort of Peter Whitten, editor of Australian Rally Sport News caught fire at one of the finish controls. Severe damage was caused to the car but thankfully no one was hurt. We arrived on the scene just after the fire had started, we handed over our fire extinguisher but the fuel pump was still sending fuel to engine bay making it impossible to extinguish. After disconnecting the pump and a few more extinguishers the fire was put out. Damage was restricted to the engine bay and the front of the cabin. A fair bit of work will have to be done to get it back on the road.
We hadn't seen a time board all day. It wasn't until the end of the event that we realised we had come first in grade 4 beating second place by almost a minute. The whole team was ecstatic. Our first grade win and trophy. The win has put us back in the championship lead by 3 points with one more event to go. The event is the Djerriwarrh on the 13th of November. We have to finish in front of the second place holder to take out the State Championship. Fingers crossed!