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I've driven through Rosewood a few times in the past, but always on the way from somewhere to somewhere else. I certainly never went anywhere near there in my rallying days, so the area and its forests were a brand new experience for me. A quick look at Google Earth showed lots of pine forests and there's a big timber processing plant at Tumbarumba so I expected that when I got there it would look a bit like Oberon where I live. It did, and meeting log trucks on the roads around there made me feel at home.
The weather for the event was almost perfect, although some people found the mornings a little cold, another reminder of Oberon at this time of year. The only problem during the day was dust, which made things a bit difficult for spectators and competitors. There was just enough wind to gently blow the dust over the spectator points and block the view of departing cars, leaving behind a thin film of dust on camera lenses, people and car windscreens. As there is always something to complain about and dust ranks a lot lower on the annoyance scale than rain and mud, my only complaint was that it reduced the number of useful photos I could get.
The event was based at the Rosewood Golf Club, with a large area for a service park and camping. The location was excellent, with plenty of level ground for tents and service facilities. It had the added advantage for people sleeping in tents and spending their days in dust of having immediate access to two essential things - showers and cold beer (but only after the event of course - alcohol is banned in the service park during the event).
Unless you are really familiar with the forests being used, can read a map and know how to find your way in and out without using blocked roads, good spectator instructions are essential whether you are watching a rally for the first time, a regular spectator or someone trying to find a good place to get photos and video for the media. The spectator instructions for this event were up to the usual good AMSAG standard, as were the chosen viewing locations.
The rally was run over ten competitive stages, with the first five repeated in the afternoon and early evening but driven in the opposite direction. The roads I saw all looked to be in excellent condition without any rough patches to break cars. (Barry Ferguson, nine times NSW Rally Champion, two times Southern Cross Rally winner, once told me that there are no rough roads, only rough drivers. He was right.)
One of the objectives of this site is to introduce and explain rallying to people who might not know anything about it. For this reason I like to include some videos of what the competitive stages look like from inside the car. The video below is a section of Stage 5, which was the fastest in the event. I must point out that I drive a 1993 Falcon wagon which is about as far from a rally car as you can get. I also limit my speed and avoid sliding or flicking the car to avoid damage to the road tyres, and as I had nobody to read the instructions to me I had to memorise a page at a time and slow down when I wasn't sure what would happen next. I'm just showing what the roads look like, not what you would see in competition My average speed over the stage was about 85km/h. To put this into perspective, the fastest time on the stage was set by Richard Shimmon and Katie Fletcher in a 4WD Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7 at an average speed of just over 107km/h.
Murphy's Law strikes again. Before the first event I attended this year I bought a rather expensive dash camera that in theory would do a better job than the cheap Ebay-sourced one I had been using. One of its supposed advantages was that it came with a wrist controller that theoretically would let me set it up on a tripod and take short videos of cars in action by starting and stopping recording while I was simultaneously taking still photos some distance away. The first time I tried to use it was to video a stage in Hampton State Forest that had been used in the NSW Championship round out of Oberon on April 28. After driving for fifteen minutes over the stage I saw that the camera had shut itself down after seven seconds of recording (I had set the default recording time to 15 minutes). It started to rain so I thought that as the forest was only about 20 minutes drive from my house I would come back later.
For the recording at Rosewood I had the camera plugged into a power source so I was able to see that the screen stayed on the whole time. I stopped recording when I got back to the main road near the end control. When I checked the SD card later I found that the stage recording consisted of 14 videos ranging in length from a few seconds to two minutes. Also, the camera had randomly switched itself on several times over the next day so I ended up with more than 70 videos. The video above was stitched together from four - three of two minutes, one of nine seconds. I'll be going back to the old camera. It might have a maximum recording time of only ten minutes, but it does what it is told to do, has much less "fish eye" distortion and is far less susceptible to vibration.
One of the fist things I did after getting home was to go back to the shop and get a refund. The money can be spent better elsewhere.
There were 35 entrants, two of whom failed to start. Of the remaining 33, 21 were classed as official finishers. The number of non-finishers might seem high but most of the withdrawals were because of mechanical failure of some kind, most probably brought on by the high target speeds set for the various stages. As is usual for rallies, the medical staff had little to do all day. It might look like a dangerous game but there are a lot of rules in place to make it as safe as possible, and these rules are changed occasionally to make it even safer. I'll let the pictures do the talking.
AMSAG web site - http://www.amsag.com.au
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