Our Tours - Rally Australia 2011
Hayden Paddon becomes NZ's first World Rally Champion.
Once again Rally Tours joined with the official tour providers Rally Sport News to spectate on the newest event on the calendar.
Rally Australia this year was based in Coffs Harbour (famous for it's big Banana), some three hours further south than the 2009 event.
Spectator access on the event was limited to a very small number of public and enthisiast points, so we were very pleased to be included in special exclusive access viewing areas.
Shakedown was the first of these, a fast sweeping intersection in the bush, and which was delayed by Novikov's first excursion of the weekend. (We followed his car on a flat bed truck back to Coffs Harbour.)
After a tour with the Petter Solberg team and a wander around the service park, and a Turbo Burger (highly recommended but not for vegetarians) we had time for a brief break before joining the Rally Show in downtown Coffs Harbour.
We caught up with Hayden and John and they were delighted by the Kiwi support, not just from RallyTours, the HP tour group, and independant kiwi spectators, but also from locally resident kiwis who came out in force. Then we endured two runnings of the "super" special stage in pouring rain. We had a delicious butter chicken.
On Friday, finally the rally proper started and we joined a good sized crowd at the public spectator point on "Shipmans"
by the ford.
By this time the rain had done it's job and the track was well slippery! An excellent spectating spot with something for everyone.
First run through and everyone was trying quite hard!
The second spot for the day was on the rerun of "Shipmans", but later in the stage. Again incredibly slippery - see the photo of Latvala going wide.
Later there was an option to see the "super" special twice again, but there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for this.
On Saturday we spectated on "Graces" then after lunch and a tour through Bowraville market we moved to "Welshes". The exclusive stage viewing had a series of fast cambered corners approaching a wide area around which the road curved, then rounded a hairpin allowing great viewing from the inside, three good corners, or four if you count the wrong slot taken by the tail car.
The enthusiast area at Welshes stage had a fast approach over a bridge, accross the valley into a 90 right then along in front of a huge bank covered with people, around which the road curved and then climbed, into another corner and on up the hill. Great Spectating!
The "super" special was again an option.
On Sunday our tour had two exclusive viewing spots by special arrangement. The first, at "Plum Pudding" had a tight left hairpin downhill. Then we went back to midday service and saw the evidence of Novikov's bigger accident come past on a truck.
Our final stage was the televised power stage - we were able to greet Hayden as he reached control as the 2011 World Champion in the PWRC.
6th overall and first in class by 1min 32s, four PWRC wins from four rallies, 14th overall in the WRC!
Way to go! Congratulations to Hayden and John and all the team.
Thanks to all our passengers, hope you enjoyed the considerable improvement on 2009 in terms of rally viewing.
And thanks to the fans from Rally Sport News for their companionship and good humour, we look forward to meeting you all again at Rally New Zealand next year!
Finally thanks to Peter and Carolyn and family for all their work behind the scenes making this tour such a success.