Sunday 4 November 2012

Spookworks win 2012 RAF Rally Championship! - Full Report

   Spookworks finish 18th overall and 4th in Class to win the RAF Rally Championship for 3 years straight!

The final event of the RAF Rally Championship saw the Spookworks Rally Team trailing the Championship Leader Phil Bruce by 31 points.

With only a start required to gain the necessary points to secure the 2012 RAF Rally Championship title you would think the mood around the Spookworks Camp would be one of celebration and joy.  Instead the feeling around the Spookworks Motorsport Complex was one of quiet focus and determination.  It had been a long season and the Spookworks Impreza was feeling tired and battered after a hard year's rallying.  Only 70 miles and 7 Stages around Keevil Airfield in Wilts remained and the intensity that the team started the season with would remain until every last mile is complete.

Seeded at 18th the Spookworks Team would be in for a tough event - if only they knew how tough!  All around them were extremely capable and quick machines, many former WRC cars now in privateer hands but just as fast as they were in their prime.

Some last minute dramas saw Spookworks outsource a specialist exhaust repair to CC Motorsport.  A long time supporter of the team what these guys don't know about rallying is not worth knowing.  The exhaust was returned with days to spare and the Spookworks Impreza lined up at the start of the Fat Albert Stages raring to go into battle.

Stage 1 saw an early incident as shortly after entering a tight and twisty scrub land section locally known as the 'nadgery bit' the Spookworks Impreza left the road due to the extremely slippery conditions and collide with a small collection of branches.  No damage was done but the following car encountered exactly the same problem and also left the road colliding with the rear of the Spookworks Impreza and damaging the newly repaired exhaust.  Whilst the crew managed to extricate themselves from the excursion the damage left the exhaust back box dragging on the ground behind the car and valuable time was lost as the crew limped back to service.  Spookworks set a time of 12:22 and dropped from 18th to 24th overall.

Do not adjust your set - Spookworks Impreza dragging a newly repaired exhaust (again) around Stage 1 of the Fat Albert Rally  after  being  hit by a wayward Ford Escort.

Upon reaching service the service crew lead by Iain "Boost" Duncan, jumped into action and had soon effected a sound repair noting how little damage overall had occurred but also how unlucky that the small amount of damage that did occur was so concentrated on the exhaust thereby knocking it from its mounts.

Boost and the Boys get to work to repair the stricken exhaust and get the Spookworks Impreza ready for battle on Stage 2
Fully patched up and ready again for action, Stage 2 was another identical 10 mile test around Keevil Airfield. With the tyres and brakes up to temperature the Spookworks Team pushed on eager to make up lost time from Stage 1 and stay in touch with the Top 20.  It was during this push that saw the most dramatic incident of the 2012 season.  On a sweeping left hander the Spookworks Impreza once again left the road at about 60mph into a field and headed straight for a large tree.  Thankfully the bracken and assorted airfield weedage absorbed the forward motion of the car similar to a sponge and the car emerged unhurt and back onto the stage.  Needless to say had the bracken not intervened the result could have been catastrophic.  Almost as amazingly and perhaps as a sign of how hard the crew were pushing, Spookworks came in a full 21 secs faster than Stage 1 even with this incident.

This could have REALLY hurt!
Stage 3 saw a much more considered approach and a resulted in a respectable 11:13, the 18th fastest time as the Spookworks Team began to move back up the field.

Nerves now repaired after Stage 2 it was back to business.

Stage 4 saw Spookworks beat their previous time by 7 secs with a 11:06 and the team moved back into contention for a Top 20 finish. Only 3 stages and 30 miles to go!

Stage 5 saw a complete reversal of the Stages to go clockwise and proved to be a great leveller.  Spookworks posted a Top 16 time and moved into 20th overall and 4th in class.

Persistence pays off - Spookworks moves up to join the Top 20 and 4th in class.
Stage 6 saw Spookworks switch to survival mode and with the next car in class over a minute ahead and pulling away there seemed no place for useless heroics.  Whilst there was no pushing there was no cruising either.  17th fastest shows they still meant business and moves them to 19th overall.

Not sure if the crew understood survival mode.  This looks very similar to full attack mode....

 Stage 7 and was all about getting the car home in one piece to fight another day.  A nice straightforward run with thankfully no dramas apart from some brake vibration saw Spookworks finish the event  and move up to 18th overall.  The result grabbed 117 points for the RAF Championship securing the title by 88 points and  thus began the celebrations of Championship number 3.  To add icing to the cake, Spookworks picked up the award for 3rd in class as the overall rally winner came from Class E and was therefore not included in class results.

Can you say Three-Peat.  Three Champs back to back is a new RAF Record.


To the winner goes the spoils. A new battle honour is won...