From Chris Biewer [ 28/05/2006 ].
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From our last report the Carrera Sudamericana moved across the border from Peru to Equador. However the first 40km gravel stage had to be cancelled. It would have been a dead lovely twisty and technical stage with the longest straight reported to be 200metres. However the first impression was that Equador’s stages were not up to the road closure safety standards expected by the organisers and unfortunately this was not the last stage to be cancelled. Still, it is amazing how after so many days, we by now count day18, there was still massive movement in the results lists.
The next day has a nice mix of one gravel and one asphalt stage. The latter asphalt stage is maybe the more technical one, as we are in the clouds and it goes twisty downhill towards the city of Cuenca, where the overnight halt will be. However the gravel stage has the most stunning scenery. It goes through green mountains, following a river with many waterfalls! However this also connects to our breaking news earlier that week. On this gravel stage Joe McAndrew, who dominated the event from day2, stopped with problems. By the end of the day the leader missed 2 stages and already dropped to 5th. So far we reported. However it came even worse, as Honda team Joe McAndrew and navigator Sue O’Neill were unable to restart the rally on day20. Day20 was the penultimate day, but without the team returning they are out of the final results altogether!
Although there are two more days left, in which the rally moves down over windy gravel stages to Equador’s seaside capital, Quito, this means the results were settled. Honda team mates Rick Bates/Jenny Brittan from Australia and Shane Murland/John Benton from NZ were now firmly in 1st and 2nd place. Porsche 911 crew Vlado Palko/Jiri Kotek completed the podium positions, that should remain like that until the finish line. However to underline how exciting such long events can be until close to the finish line, the Slovakian/Czech Porsche team only even gained 4th place the day before they were awarded the podium.
Another amazing (all Australian) battle was for the victory in the big engined historic class. It was only for places 7th and 8th overall, but Garry Leeson/Rebecca Cochrane in a Ford Falcon 4.2 and Peter Cochrane/Cameron Wearing in a Ford Mustang 5.0 swapped positions several times. Before leaving Peru the Falcon driver just moved ahead of the Mustang by a mere 3mins. However now drama was ripe. For Leeson the class win was all but lost when he slid off the road on SS30 San Lucas, the one with the waterfalls that claimed McAndrew too. But Leeson was fit again for the next stage of the day, where he posted the 7th quickest time overall. More even, by now the Mustang was long missing. A holed engine block meant the Mustang also was removed from the results lists for good. All this drama meant by the end of the event Ian and Val Swan, another Australian couple in another Falcon, came within 5mins of class victory, even though they never featured anywhere near the class leaders so far all event!
This scenario also promoted Safari legends Mike Kirkland/Crispin Sassoon from Kenya into 6th place overall. The Datsun 240Z crew were the Honda trio’s biggest threat for 2/3rd of the event. But the show seemed to even become more convincing once the Datsun suffered a broken rear axle. In the last 1/3rd of the event Kirkland/Sassoon managed the miracle to move from 19th place back into 6th, only 2 positions down from their original placing.
Outside the top10 Paul Darrouzet passed USA’s Leonard Bennett’s BMW 318i on the closing days, even though Bennett managed to stop putting his BMW off the road. However it must be said the event was a disappointment for the rare Australian V8 Ford Capris with Paul Darrouzet in 14th and Nelson Marshal in 16th. The cars are identical to the Capri Mk1 as known in Europe, but equipped with the V8 engine from the Falcon. Both managed top stage times in the London-Sydney Rally 2004 and especially Darrouzet’s example was the outright winner of the London-Sydney Rally 2000 in the hands of Stig Blomqvist, beating Michèle Mouton and Rick Bates on that occasion.
Interesting also in the drivers, that the winning Rick Bates was new to the Honda team and as well, except the above mentioned LSM2000, not such a big name beforehand.
Joe McAndrew owns a preparation business, that now prepares the super successful marathon groupN Integras. Joe made a name for himself when he bought K555 PRO, one of the last Subaru Legacy RS that Prodrive built. The car was in the hands of Colin McRae, retired Acropolis 93 and came 6th in NZ 93. Joe McAndrew repeated K555 PRO’s 6th place in Rally NZ 1994 and managed even 4th on the same event in 1996, when it however didn’t score for the WRC.
2nd placed Shane Murland’s history takes us even further back. His most famous moment was in Rally NZ 1979. On that occasion Shane was part of the official Vauxhall Chevette HSR team as team mate of Pentti Airikkala. While Airikkala retired, Murland cam 5th in an event that saw a huge battle between the Escorts of Hannu Mikkola and Ari Vatanen and the Datsuns of Timo Salonen and Andrew Cowan.
3rd in Carrera Sudamericana 2006 and the first historic car crew were Vlado Palko/Jiri Kotek. Slovakian Palko only once competed in a WRC event, Cyprus 2004, where he finished 14th overall and 3rd groupN. But navigator Jiri Kotek is a real Czech legend. He was part of the Skoda works team in the late 1970s. As a regular navigator to Svatopluk Kvaizar in the rear engined Skoda 130RS he finished a class winning 20th overall in the RAC 1978. In RAC 1977 they were still beaten by famous team mate John Haugland. However two attempts at the Acropolis Rally, in 1979 and 1981, ended in retirement.
The Datsun 240Z team of Mike Kirkland/Crispin Sassoon, who came back from 19th to 6th in the Carrera Sudamericana, were likely the most famous crew at the event. Today Mike Kirkland is the organiser of the East African Safari Rally. Alone Kirkland’s Safari Rally finishes include 3rd in 1981, Datsun Violet 160J; 3rd in 1982, Datsun Silvia Violet GTS; 3rd in 1985, Nissan Silvia 240RS; 2nd in 1988, Nissan Silvia 200SX & 2nd in 1989, Nissan Silvia 200SX. Kirkland was however also a good driver outside of Kenya. We also count 4th in the Bandama Rally and 7th in the Acropolis, both in 1985 in a Nissan Silvia 240RS. In the smooth Rally NZ 1990 Kirkland was surprising many with his speed, a podium position was on the cards when his Subaru Legacy’s transmission expired. His navigator Crispin Sassoon is also known since many years as a marathon navigator, but his WRC adventures all ended in retirement alongside Alistair Cavenagh in a Subaru. Mike Kirkland and Crispin Sassoon first competed together in the London-Sydney Rally 1993, where they finished a fine 3rd overall in a Peugeot 504. In fact on that occasion Kirkland/Sassoon in the Peugeot 504 had a most amazing battle, finishing that 15,000km event just 32secs ahead of legend Roger Clark’s Ford Escort BDA!
While in the main event the results were settled after Joe McAndrew’s retirement, in the challenge section there was still more heartbreak in the last two days! Even though this event was more a navigational event where you had to slot your route and stick to average speeds, we had a most nailbiting finale. Barry & Roma Weir in a Toyota Hilux lead the challenge all event but then failed on day20, when they misjudged and were late at a time control. The Toyota crew was still leading, but all event 2nd Mitsubishi Pajero team Paul & Sandra Marryweather closed the gap to only 2secs. Then on the very last stage the Mitsubishi team beat the Toyota team by 4secs and – although they never lead the event, the Marryweathers came home as surprise winners! The 2WD historic section was won by the amazing Mercedes 350SLC of Jack Nellemann. The car clocked 200,000 original kms during the event and on the last leg, since Peru, moved up from 8th to eventual 6th overall.
One of the McAndrew team Hondas in London-Sydney Rally 2004.
Final, official overall results:
1st Rick Bates AUS / Jenny Brittan AUS ; Honda Integra Type-R 6h26m57s
2nd Shane Murland NZ / John Benton NZ ; Honda Integra Type-R +5m03s
3rd Vlado Palko SK / Jiri Kotek CZ ; Porsche 911 Carrera +28m44s
4th Nick Starkey GB / Jim Hurman GB ; Opel Kadett GSI 16v +37m47s
5th Ian Begg NZ / Allan Dippie NZ ; Toyota Corolla +45m48s
6th Mike Kirkland EAK / Crispin Sassoon EAK ; Datsun Fairlady 240Z +1h00m04s
7th Garry Leeson AUS / Rebecca Cochrane AUS ; Ford Falcon 4.2 +1h17m20s
8th Ian Swan AUS / Val Swan AUS ; Ford Falcon 4.2 +1h22m58s
9th Phil Hooper AUS / Lina Hooper AUS ; Honda Integra Type-R +1h28m27s
10th Rupert Trotter GB / Craig Redelinghujs ZA ; Porsche 911 Carrera +1h36m09s