On Saturday, the family and I travelled to Oberon, about three hours drive west of Sydney, through the Blue mountains. My mother-in-law has a small farm up there, in amongst the Vulcan state forest. Oberon is pretty high up, about 1000 metres, I think, so it gets pretty cold up there at this time of year.
Anyway, as luck would have it, the Oberon rally course ran along the farm’s fence line. Being a bit of a rally fan, it was a great opportunity to have a look at a rally up close. The rally was run in 6 stages, the last three being a repeat of the first three.
Stage 3 went past the farm from about 4:30 pm till 6:00 pm. The first competitors were still in daylight but the last were in the dark. Stage 6, a repeat of 3 was run from about 8:00 pm till 9:30.
For stage 3 we watched from an uphill section where there was a little jump. It was great to watch the cars come thundering up the hill. I love the sound. Many competitors slowed down for the jump just driving over it. Some, however, and one in particular gave it a bit extra and got airborne. That was fantastic.
For stage 6, we went to the other side of the hill to watch the cars come down. This time we crossed the road into the forest. The course came down the hill, which was quite steep, kinked to the right and then straightened up again. As the first competitor came into earshot, it was clear this guy was really going for it. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite make the kink and went up onto a grassy patch. There were a few bangs as he collected a few rocks. Ouch. I assume he put his sump guard to good use.
It’s amazing to watch a rally at night. You’re there in the pitch black, freezing. You hear the next car coming from a way off. Then the clouds are lit up with the a large oval of light as the car comes up the hill. As the car crests the hill, the light comes through the trees and mist in a series of rays, like some UFO. Then comes the car tearing down the hill, hundreds of watts lighting up the road and forest. Most made the turn and slither up the next hill. Some didn’t make the turn although they all recoverd.
Between stages, we went into the town of Black Springs to see the cars in service. Everyone we met was so friendly, telling us about their cars, how they were going, how the navigator uses the course notes, etc. Everyone was very open and we chatted to quite a few.
I’m keen to see another rally especially one from http://ecampervanhire.com.au.
The extended entry for this page has a few (largish) pictures of the event. I had to turn off the auto-focus as it was getting a bit slow in the dark. Of course manually focussing in the pitch black is hard too. If you’re interested, I was using a Nikon F70 with standard lens, flash, etc.
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