October 1, 2019

Motoring: Rally ’round

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get involved in motorsport? With the Shannons Adelaide Rally just around the corner, it might be easier than you think.

Photograph: ozsportphotos.com

To the uninitiated, motorsport is a slightly frightening, often confusing sport, one that many people would love to participate in if only they knew how. And as a result, while they secretly wish they too could drive fast cars fast, they hold back.

Certainly, in the upper echelons, motorsport requires considerable skills and almost limitless funding, but there are plenty of other ways to get involved, without breaking the bank.

One of the most accessible ways into motorsport in Adelaide is the Shannons Adelaide Rally, which will be on again from December 4 to 7, 2019. It has been structured to cater for all levels of ability, and it needn’t cost you the earth to take part.

Over the four days of the event, there are as many as 30 different driving activities, catering for the novice, all the way through to serious, virtually professional, drivers.

The Prima Tour is a single-day event held on Day Two of the rally. Open to all road-registered modern and classic cars, it is a leisurely drive along approximately 150 kilometres of some of South Australia’s most picturesque driving roads; the very same roads being used by the serious competition entrants. The Prima Tour includes up to five closed road activities before lunch at Applewood Distillery and gives entrants ample opportunity to rub shoulders with notable drivers and participate without the pressure of competition. It’s the ideal way to dip your toe in the water. Entry is $625 and your car doesn’t need any expensive competition modifications. The entry price includes a single event CAMS licence (Level 1S) and starts at 7am for scrutineering (where your car is inspected to ensure it is safe), documentation and drivers’ briefing at Victoria Park before setting out at 8am. Participants in the Prima Tour take home a commemorative road book, caps and bonnet decal.

Moving up a step comes the Main Tour.

The Main Tour fills three days with an incredible array of activities. Participants drive the same roads as the competition entrants, leaving before them in “packets” or groups of cars, led by a tour leader who sets a swift but enjoyable pace, best described as “spirited”, around some of the best driving roads in Australia.

Main Tour participants traverse around 23 closed-road stages of up to 22 kilometres long, and are an integral part of the Adelaide Rally. They also get to take part in the famous Friday night Gouger Street party in the heart of the city, where they are required to display their cars, and a new addition to the event, the East End Finale Party.

Entry into the Main Tour costs $1695 and is open to modern and classic cars with current registration. Both driver and navigator must have a CAMS Level 2S licence. At the conclusion of the event, they take home a commemorative road book, caps, vehicle signage and finisher’s medallions.

The Spirit category ramps things up another notch, redefining the interpretation of a spirited drive. The category runs over Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is untimed and non-competitive, but deceptively quick as tour leaders take packets of cars at a rapid clip along challenging, technical roads. 

For the Spirit category, the speed limit on closed road sections is 120km/h. It may not sound all that challenging. Until you try it! These roads are tight, twisty and unforgiving. Once again, entry is open to any modern or classic car with current registration. Both driver and navigator must hold a CAMS Level 2S licence and wear approved helmets and a Rallysafe fitting kit must be installed. Entry is $2295.

An interesting category that evens out the inequalities between cars of very different performance is the Heritage Trophy Handicap Competition. This clever bit of trickery makes it possible for a Honda Z (with 360cc of raw, undiluted power) to compete on an equal footing with a thundering V8 Ford Falcon. Without going into the mathematics, the handicap system applies a penalty factor based on engine capacity and vehicle weight and uses it to multiply the number of kilometres covered in each stage.

Now we come to the categories that are not for the faint-hearted.

The Challenge runs over all four days of the rally with competitors released at 30-second intervals and timed over closed-road stages. A 130km/h speed limit applies on closed road sections, with time penalties for breaches. The winners are those who complete the stages in the fastest time. Trophies are awarded in both Classic and Modern categories for first, second and third places.

Cars must have a half roll cage fitted and comply with general safety requirements including harnesses for driver and navigator. Participants must wear a frontal head restraint system and vehicles must have a Rallysafe fitting kit installed. Entry is $2495.

The final category is the Shannons Adelaide Rally Competition, the premium category in the event. This is a timed speed event for two classes: Modern (post-1985) and Classic cars.

Photograph: ozsportphotos.com

Naturally, cars must be fitted with a full roll cage (so your daily driver probably won’t be suitable) and comply with CAMS Tarmac or Gravel Regulations, including full tarmac rally safety gear. Competitor drivers are required to hold a CAMS National Rally Licence while navigators must have a minimum Single Event Rally Navigator’s Licence.

Entry is $2995, and trophies are awarded to outright first, second and third place in both the Classic and Modern categories.

Of course, if you are interested in any form of motorsport, the best way in is to seek out your local car club and join. Car clubs hold a wide range of motor events, from competition to social outings and are the ideal way to introduce yourself to the adrenaline-charged pastime that is motorsport.  

Learn more at adelaiderally.com.au

This story first appeared in the August 2019 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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