The penultimate day of Sunraysia Safari 2018 has been a good one for Rob Herridge and the Maximum Motorsport Subaru XV. After a persistent slipping clutch made for hard work on Thursday, Friday saw the Subaru XV back to full speed and setting competitive times against the fast buggies and ‘trophy’ trucks.
The crews headed east into the Mungo National Park in the morning, tracing a path around Mulurulu Lake. Following midday service crews turned north for the 78km Wilkurra stage before returning west to Pooncarie for the short Tarcoola stage.
The Sunraysia can bite hard, and overnight leader Glenn Owen and second placed John Purshouse both suffered problems in the morning, Owen’s Jimco buggy stranded early in the first stage.
The Maximum Motorsport XV had had its own share of problems on Thursday, by Friday was better. The Subaru ran reliably all day in conditions that didn’t really suit it.
“In some places it looked like we were rallying on another planet!”, Rob Herridge said after the days final stage. “We ran in this area of the Mungo National Park last year, and the tracks were hard-packed and our Subaru set some good times. But this year the drought has played a big part. There’s very little vegetation left. Tracks that suited our car last year are now soft, deep sand and dust. So we struggled to make much of an impression. That said, we finished 5th for the day, so we’ve regained a couple of the places we lost yesterday.”
“The car itself worked really well today. We had a couple of minor navigation issues. You’re barrelling down the road and then have to make split-second decisions on which way to turn, and with the soft roads there are no tyre tracks to follow. So we made a couple of mistakes early on, but nothing too major. The dust is a problem as well. We were in the middle of a dust storm for a while today, and later we got ourselves caught behind another competitor. Navigating these stages is hard enough when you can see the road ahead!”
Saturday is the final day of the event. But there is still plenty of rallying ahead for competitors. The day starts to the west of Wentworth for the 100 km Warrananga stage, followed by two shorter stages that run near the Silver City Highway on the run back to Mildura and the podium finish.
“The plan for tomorrow is try and catch the guys in front of us during the 250km of stages that remain. That said, we have John Purshouse behind us and he’ll be trying to get back in touch with the lead, so we’re really going to have to push hard.”