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Grip : GRIP October 2012
SPORT GRIP SAFARI FROM THE CO-DRIVER’S SEAT By Sam Hill NSW Regional Service Manager LAST month, I was asked to go on an adventure, one that would see me cover nearly 4000km of Western Australia’s most desolate, beautiful and challenging terrain. Eight days of driving only spared by nightly bivouacs and portable showers. As if this wasn’t going to be challenging enough, we were to do this in a near standard Subaru Forester. I was offered the co- driver’s job next to Rob Herridge in the Australasian Safari. Rob, Dean’s dad, won the Australian Rally Championship in 1991 and 1992 driving a Subaru Liberty RSR. Rob’s team at Maximum Motorspor ts had built a Subaru Forester XT to compete in the Safari production class. The Forester had already completed last year’s Safari, having won the production class. Others seeking class honours included a Mitsubishi Pajero and Challenger, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota Landcruiser and a VW Amarok. Day One, Saturday, greeted us with glorious sunshine on the touring stage out of Geraldton. To start the day’s competitive stages was a short 18km blast from Coronation beach. We approached this stage with caution to ensure we got to the end, giving us a quick introduction to Safari competition. Moving on from the coastline, next up was a long 106km stage through the farming country heading nor th towards Kalbarri National Park. This stage suited our Forester well, and we pushed the car quite hard, testing it along the fast sandy fence lines, and bushy scrub tracks. It was here that we made our intentions clear by winning the stage outright by seven seconds. This was the first ever production class stage win in Australasian Safari history. Leg 2 started with some fast forestry roads through the Murchison River National Park, opening into shrubby straights through the Kalbarri National Park. The final stage of the day was a monster 260km run along the Shark Bay coastline, and heading north towards the overnight stop at Carnarvon. Leg 3 was a 400km section split into three stages, and where the Subaru Forester climbed to second place outright on the second Ningaloo stage that traversed the coastline along the World Heritage- listed Ningaloo Reef. The Subaru performed amazingly well climbing the sand dunes. The day’s final stage was held over 198km of deserted inland paddocks and dry river beds. With just 40km to go, the Subaru’s gearbox started making some horrible noises, and third gear was no longer selectable. Not to slow the progress, Rob drove the Forester in second and fourth gear to the finish, only missing out on the stage win by less than a minute. With a quick call to Alan Lovesly, DP of Carnarvon Subaru, to arrange access to their workshop if required, I set about removing the gearbox with the help of the team, and quickly stripping the case to assess the damage. Third gear had cried enough, and with five teeth missing from the gear, and large amounts of damage to the surrounding parts, it wasn’t looking good. Rob made a few promises, and with a quick handshake, the gearbox was hastily removed from one of our team member’s personal vehicles, disassembled, and the entire gear set and input shafts swapped over. The gearbox was rebuilt and installed back into the Forester. The cheers erupted when the Forester was fired into life just after midnight. Tired, yet motivated, we headed out again on day four, which took us to the remote Gascoyne Junction region, with a loop on day five held entirely on the Bidgemia Station. This was rough country with large washaways caused by the flooding in this region some two years ago, and huge rocks near the Kennedy ranges and plains took their toll on the crews. However, we carefully negotiated the terrain and finished the monster 3 01km stage in just under four hours, finishing the day holding firm in second place outright. On the run back south, the pressure was taking its toll on the crew. Driving the car to protect a position is definitely more difficult than charging up through the field. We had decided to slow the pace as we had a generous 90-minute lead back to third place. On the final day of the event, all that stood between the finish and us was 47km along the beach line between Kalbarri and Geraldton. Heading into Geraldton it was a surreal feeling that we had accomplished this huge feat. We had taken a near standard Subaru Forester and driven it through some of the world’s toughest terrain. The Forester had completed every kilometre of the 2012 Australasian Safari, and we had driven and navigated our way to second place outright and first place for Safari production class vehicles. The Forester was the peoples’ favourite. It was as much a victory for us as it was for all Subaru owners. INSIDE GRIP HOME PAGE STI BRZ PBMS BRZ PARTS & ACCESSORIES AFTERSALES ALLIANCES DEALERSHIPS MARKETING TRENDS DEALER STATS SPORT
GRIP September 2012
GRIP November 2012