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Singleton Automotive Centre Caves Classic,
Hampton, Jenolan and Lowes Mount Forests,
Saturday April 14 2018

Windy weather for the windy roads

Sandwiched between thunderstorms on Friday night and a cold, windy and miserable Sunday morning, Oberon turned on almost perfect weather on Saturday, April 14, for the 2018 Singleton Automotive Services Caves Classic Rally. Winds caused spectators to have to hold onto their hats but were good for the drivers because dust was quickly blown away.

The event was based on the Oberon Leagues Club which provided an almost perfect location, with plenty of space for the service park, food available throughout the day and a good venue for an evening meal, some refreshing and dust-clearing beverages, presentation of awards and somewhere to swap war stories, all just a short walk away for competitors, service crews, officials and spectators. Club Manager Natalie Ryan says that rallies are welcome back at any time.


Oberon Leagues Club from across the playing field.

The rally was run in eight stages across Hampton, Jenolan and Lowes Mount State Forests, with the first cars flagged off by Oberon Mayor Kathy Sajowitz. Local support is vital for sports like this and the organisers were pleased to know that the Council welcomed them to the town.

Oberon Mayor Kathy Sajowitz welcomes everyone to OberonDrivers' briefing (in a tent that was trying to become a hang glider!)
The service park and start control. The big Borg factory with the steam coming out of it manufactures timber products. It is the largest manufacturing plant in NSW west of Emu Plains, and like the rally, it is here because of the nearby pine forests. Without factories like this it would be far more difficult to find forests in the excellent condition that competitors faced on this day.

The first competitive stage was an 8km run in Hampton State Forest, followed by two stages (12 and 28km) in Jenolan. Cars then returned to Oberon for a service break before heading off for 10km in Lowes Mount on roads that hadn't seen a rally for many years. The stages in Hampton and Jenolan were then run again, followed by another service break then back into Lowes Mount, but this time in the dark.

Unfortunately, my very smart camera got too smart for its own good and when I went to Lowes Mount Forest in the almost dark it kept lengthening the exposure time whenever it thought that there wasn't enough light. This meant that all I got was a lot of motion blur. Except when cars with driving lights were pointing straight at me, when what I got was quite sharp photos consisting of nothing but glare.

Of course, I only discovered this after the rally was finished and it was too late to do anything about it.

Because spectator points are spread out and not ticketed it is difficult to estimate how many spectators were at the event, but comparison with a well-publicised Australian Rally Championship round in Canberra last year suggests that Oberon was able to draw about one third of the spectators as a city 200 times the size.

Regardless of whether you have ever been to a rally before or are coming to one for the first time, you should always be able to find somewhere to get spectator instructions. You should hope that they are always as good as the ones available for this event.


Click on the image for a PDF file of the spectator instructions.

Rallying has a tradition of competitors complaining about minor things at the end but there didn't seem to be any of that at the club that night. North Shore Sporting Car Club had continued their tradition of good organisation, good roads and minimal complaints. The club and rally director John Sparkes should be congratulated.


Rally headquarters, where everything is held together

A small section of the after-event crowdThe trophies awaiting presentation


Click on the image for provisional results.

Full results of all classes can be found at http://nsscc.com.au/caves-classic/

A report on the rally was published in the Oberon Review on Thursday, April 19.
For some reason, it's not on the paper's web site yet, so here's a picture of it.


Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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