After enjoying the Targa Tasmania Tour for two years in my BMW Z4, my latter navigator Mike Anderson and I decided that we just had to do the full Targa. As the Z4 was modified beyond Targa specifications and therefore not eliglible, we decided in 2009 to purchase an existing rally car. Mike located a suitable car, the Daihatsu Charade, in Adelaide where it had been used in gravel rallying by an upcoming young driver. The car came with spare wheels and tyres plus gearboxes but very well fitted out with Drummond suspension units, CAMS approved roll cage, rally seats and harnesses plus Terratrip rally computer. Some engine modifications had been made, consisting of a sport cam and exhaust extractors only. We bought the car for considerably less than it would have taken to develop a car ourselves. While we has a few initial troubles ensuring the car was registration compliant in Queensland, otherwise it performed very well in the initial competition we ran it in.
The Driver's View
Both myself and navigator Mike Anderson individually drive the car in various events, though for rallies I am the main driver. Accordingly, my comments here relate to either my own results or those of our team. Our team competition name uses letters from our surnames: FA Rallysport . For the 2009 year we left the car in the same state of tune as purchased. I used the car at the Mt Cotton hillclimb, where I managed a best time of 56.04 seconds. When a practice day was held at Morgan Park we discovered that the suspension was not responding very well and subsequently it required overhauling. The car was also given a run on the dirt at the IWMAC venue at Willowbank for several events, where its front wheel drive and nimble handling gave better results for me than I had previously achieved with my rear wheel drive BMW Z4. The MG Car Club Ironman event, comprising a touring assembly, motorkhana, supersprint and hillclimb, placed us 15th of 19 overall and 10th of 15 in class. The other major event this year was the Queensland Challenge with Mike as navigator. We finished 11th of 25 overall and 6th of 11 in class.
For the 2010 year the car was given a major upgrade. As we intended to run in the Targa tarmac rallies, we were able to make a number of allowed changes within their rules. A 1mm overbore brought the car to 1330cc, and with changed camshaft, new ECU and some general tweaking, the power output and rev range was considerably enhanced. These changes coupled with a low ratio differential and low profile tyres, gave the car far better performance. The Targa Tasmania event when run in competition is very exciting and most satisfing to drive. While we had a couple of incidents during the event, the car performed very well. We finished all stages within trophy times gaining us the coveted Targa Trophy for the event. Overall we finished 119th of 165 finishers and 243 starters. Later in the year we further modifed the car by the fitment of a close ratio set of gears. This improved the acceleration significantly, albeit limiting top speed a bit. With this new setup we entered the inaugural Targa High Country at Mt Buller in Victoria. We enjoyed this event as well, finishing 117th of 169 finishers and 203 starters. Within the modern class we were 80th of 98 finishers and 116 starters. The car was also used for the MG Ironman, this year we were 7th of only 13 and 5th in class of 9. For the Mt Cotton hillclimb I improved my time with the new setup to 52.14 seconds.
For 2011 I did not use the car as much, though Mike had great fun at the dirt sprints. The main tarmac rally was Targa Tasmania again, and again we achieved a Targa Trophy. We came 3rd in class of 4, 45th of 52 finishers of 66 starters in early modern and 141st of 201 finishers and 254 starters overall. Later in the year we then ran in the Supaloc Classic Targa Adelaide. While not a classic car we were allowed to run in contemporary classic, as they needed more numbers to run. We ended up 9th in class of 10 and 57th of 58 finishers of 63 starters overall. On the first day we had a problem with the gearbox resulting in a loss of four stages. After a few attempts we appear to have now solved the gearbox problem. I also ran the car in a supersprint at Carnell Raceway in Stanthorpe as I was having problems with BMW Z4, the car I normally run there. I ended up with a best lap of 38.75 seconds, running 3rd in class of 10 and 48th overall of 94. The last event for the year with Mike was our first gravel rally at Gallangowan in a forestry area. We raised the suspension for this event and used the old rally tyres we obtained with the car. For me it was quite a different experience to tarmac rallying, but I slowly came to grips with the different conditions. The course itself was very rough and this finally took a toll on the car. A connection to the ECU came loose resulting in the engine shutting down. We were not able to locate the fault on site, so sadly withdrew from the event. The ECU problem was later fixed quite easily by the experts and we have now taken precautions to avoid a recurrance.
In 2012 Mike took over driving the car for gravel based rallies. The first of these was the International Rally Of Queensland, where he competed in the All Commers section. Despite a hiccup on the last stage, the car finished successfully. I was unable to navigate for him in that event as I had other commitments. However, the next event was Gallangowan again - with me navigating, but sadly in the night stage the car found a tree - ending the event for us.
The Navigator's Perspective
For someone sitting in the navigator's seat, the world view is quite different to the driver. Navigator Mike Anderson tells a story of the car preparation and the major rally events from a fresh perspective. Mike wrote a number of articles for a magazine of the UK Car Club he competed through, explaining the motorsport life in Australia and his involvement in particular. These articles are listed below. All are in pdf format. Use your browser back button to return to this page after viewing.
Some Competition Photos
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