Mother nature saw fit to provide an exceptional weekend of sunshine for the South Eastern Automobile Club to hold the latest round of the MRF Tyres SA State Rally Championship for 2021, the PMD Race Products Forest Sprint.
Saturday was perfect for the visiting rally car drivers and supporting crew to have a look around the picturesque SEAC Park complex and take in what a brilliant race track layout was on offer for them to tackle after the sun had set.
The rally had been prepared to accommodate travellers to arrive by lunch time to book in, then to do “track recce” over the three special stages that had been carefully assembled in the surrounding forest areas before returning for a vehicle assembly in the pit area and a tea break.
Action started at 6pm with the 23 willing and eager teams tackling the complex layout at SEAC Park – a daunting track in daylight and full of surprises in the dark.
Running in numerical order, past state champion Zayne Admiraal with his trusted sidekick Matthew Heywood were the first out of the blocks and posted a respectable time of 1:53.07 seconds to set the pace for the night.
Jamie Pohlner/Adam Branford were next to take on the track and showed they were serious about the weekend, stopping the clock at 1:47.03 seconds.
Dale Cagney/Matt Kirby were car 3 and always up for a challenge, taking a quick line around the park layout to return with 1:46.02 on the score sheet.
Nick Cagney/Ken Moore followed his dad out and blew the dust off the track with a scorching 1:44.52 run, one of Nick’s best efforts at SEAC Park and a time that would prove hard to beat.
Following teams could not beat Cagney junior’s time with the Heenan/Kriesl pairing next in line (1:51.66) followed by Hunt/Brown (1:53.28) with the times across the field indicating how difficult the track can be in the cold, dark conditions.
Cagney Jr lowered his time in the second heat to 1:44.23 to top the list, with most of the teams trimming a few tenths off their first run times.
Dale Cagney had a flat tyre in the second round, costing him some 20 seconds, so he set out in the third heat with the intent to make up some of that lost time and that must have lit the fire in the belly.
Cagney Sr stopped the clock at 1:43.53 seconds and posted what would be his best ever lap time at SEAC Park to get the top spot on the time sheet and be two seconds clear of the best of the rest, Pohlner at 1:45.41 and Cagney Jr at 1:45.79.
Admiraal showed some speed for a 1:49.24, bettering his previous run (1:49.73) and just in front of an improving Poel/Cutting (1:50.87 & 1:50.27).
Team Herring/Woods were coming to grips with the track hovering at 1:51.22, as did Campbell/Ambrose (1:51.79), Wilson/Wilson (1:52.00), Heenan/Kriesl (1:53.09) and Sims/Shute (1:53.27).
Some of the visiting teams were content to lock in a time and not risk the car as a full day’s rallying still awaited them on Sunday and fourth round times were a touch slower as a result as the night air turned cold and dampness set in.
Best time of this round listed against Dale Cagney/Kirby (1:44.74) a second clear of Nick Cagney/Moore (1:45.53).
Jamie Pohlner/Branford (1:46.28) headed Admiraal/ Heywood (1:48.35), Herring/Woods (1:49.20), Poel/ Cutting (1:49.74), Campbell/Ambrose ( 1:51.48), Harries/ Pfitzner (1:52.19), Wilson/Wilson (1:53.10) with Sims/ Shute (1:53.30) rounding out the top 10 for the last run of the night.
Sunday and a brilliant, sunny day, competitors were sent off into the first of three passes of the forest rally stages, “Limestone Corner”, “Top Gear” and “Other Side Of Tracks” with pace notes from the look around “recce” the previous day, all the top crews were on the pace from the start.
Nick Cagney, having purchased the ex Pohlner Subaru after the last rally season, showed a clean pair of heels on the first two stages closely followed by Zayne Admiraal, with Jamie Pohlner and Ryan Poel sharing third listing for the slippery first passes on each of these stages.
Jamie Pohlner got the top spot in stage three first pass.
After a scheduled service break, it was back into the rally with Pohlner and Cagney Junior sharing the top spot and Admiraal just that second or two behind in third place.
Another service break and crews returned for the last pass at each of these tricky stages.
The slippery conditions had taken its toll on some cars with broken drivelines a common cause for withdrawal of more than a few, including the hot crew of Admiraal/Heywood running in third spot until withdrawing.
The battle continued between Cagney Jr and Pohlner, with Pohlner getting the first stage (third pass) by five seconds from Nick Cagney, but he could not repeat this in the second stage (three seconds back) or third stage (one second).
Ryan Poel claimed third spot in the Limestone Corner and top gear stages by a three-second gap and snuck in on the last stage by one second.
TOP 10 OUTRIGHT
1ST OUTRIGHT AND 1ST CLASS P5: Nicholas Cagney/ Ken Moore in a Subaru WRX total time 49:05.07 2ND OUTRIGHT AND 2ND CLASS P5: Jamie Pohlner/ Adam Branford in a Mitsubishi EVO 7, time 49:19.74 3RD OUTRIGHT AND 1ST CLASS P6: Dale Cagney/ Matt Kirby in a Mitsubishi EVO 6 time of 51:17.76 4TH OUTRIGHT AND 3RD CLASS P5: Ryan Poel/Rebekah Cutting in a Subaru Impreza RS time 51:33.85 5TH OUTRIGHT AND 2ND CLASS P6: Daren Herring/Matthew Woods in a Mitsubishi EVO 6 time 51:35.06 6TH OUTRIGHT AND 1ST CLASS CRC: Carwyn Harries/Tomas Pfitzner in a Holden Gemini time 52:15.70 7TH OUTRIGHT AND 1ST CLASS P4: Kevin Millard/Patrick Hughes in a Datsun 1600 total time 53:30.39 8TH OUTRIGHT AND 2ND CLASS P4: Philip Wilson/ Damien Wilson in a Toyota Soarer total time 53:40.27 9TH OUTRIGHT AND 3RD CLASS P6: Rob Hunt/ Jerome Browne in a Mitsubishi EVO 6 total time 54:20.00 10TH OUTRIGHT AND 1ST CLASS P3: Glenn Campbell/ Darran Ambrose in a Renault Clio time of 54:54.42