Tony – “Disappointment and excitement washed over me simultaneously as I know we can do so much faster and need time in the seat on events to be able to extract our full potential as soon as possible!"
“It is a huge Honour to be Team FCACA’s number 1 driver, to have competed in Rally New Zealand and then the very next weekend in China is another Dream come True and everything I have ever wanted from life”…
Round 2 - Mohe
The serene forest scenes of WRC New Zealand would soon be replaced with Hong Kong, Shanghai, Harbin and finally the very new Mohe Airport, just one hour’s drive from the Russian border.
The natural beauty of a dense new forest, spanning as far as the eye can see, has returned to its former glory since being wiped out 10 years ago by a devastating fire.
On our approach to Mohe Airport, the obvious beauty of the forests would never have prepared Team FCACA and the other teams for the flat out gravel stages we were about to recce the next day for the first ever CRC Rally in Mohe.
The stages consisted of extremely long straights and fast corners, leading to expectations of Mitsubishi being fast and confirmed by recorded speeds of around 225kmh.
John and Tony have been working extremely hard on their new pace noting system and Mohe was a huge opportunity to work on this (and their trust in each other) on only their third rally together, at speeds in excess of 200kph.
Their road-going STI Subaru Impreza recce car was experiencing issues with its corolba, leaving the pair to guess distances between corners, straights and crests.
This was going to make Day One a massive learning experience in their apprenticeship together.
Friday started with an 8.30am starting ceremony in the main street of Mohe, with many locals seizing the chance to catch their first-ever glimpse of rally cars and teams.
The afternoon would be filled with a test on a very wet, closed road and the opportunity to experience our Team FCACA N12B Prodrive Subaru Impreza singing its lungs out flat in 5th gear.
Saturday’s early morning start would catch Tony out, 2 hours from service in dry conditions, “driving extremely average” on the wrong Pirelli tyres and suspension settings for the 143kph average speed encountered on stage.
Stage 2, due mainly to the demise of others, found Team FCACA’s Kiwi/Aussie drivers in 4th place.
The afternoon stages (3 and 4) would go a little better with small suspension changes. Although committing to the notes and hoping for rain had meant another bad tyre choice leading to them delaminating on stage, they still managed to end the day in 3rd place.
By dinnertime, John and Tony had the evening planned to work flat out on the notes, so as to start Day 2 on the pace of the leading Mitsubishi drivers.
The fellas finished in 3rd place.
The final results were:
1. David Higgins/Leuan Thomas 0:56:54.8
2. Wei Hongjie + 0:02:39.4
3. Tony Green/John Allen + 0:03:09.3
4. Liu Dong Cao/Anthony McLoughlin + 0:03:39.2
5. Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen +0:04:33.3
Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. After waiting close to two hours for a salad and sandwich, the only thing the driving duo had achieved (apart from hunger) was two speeding offences, which seemed rather odd considering no-one could tell them or the team when, where or how fast they were travelling and what, if at all, the speed limits in Mohe actually were.
After speaking to locals, organizers, management and everyone they could think of, the team decided to use the law of averages and agree it must have been 70kmh as the replies were … 50, 60, 70, 70, 80, 100, 110 and approximately 10 people thinking there were no speed limits?
The very chilled start to Sunday morning’s road section leads to everyone in the top 12 passing the orange Subaru on the way to the first stage of the day with many teams asking if they had problems.
Stage 5, Sunday’s first stage of the rally, was a flat-out 13km in just over 5 minutes and an average speed of 156kmh. With the correct tyres, Team FCACA showed their pace and recorded the second fastest stage time: 8 seconds off David Higgins.
Stage 6 was even faster, with a long 2km straight allowing the Team FCACA Subaru to achieve 216kmh on their way to a 3rd quickest stage time after a slow start. The pair were able to get a good feel for the pace being set in the second half of the stage and were super excited to get back on the drying afternoon stages to try Pirelli’s XR tyre.
However, this was not meant to be. With the incredibly high top speeds being reached, it was deemed too dangerous and the final two stages of the day were cancelled.
Although Tony and John are happy to be 1st Subaru, 3rd outright in Mohe and now 2nd in the China rally championship after their third event together, they both openly say “There is a whole lot more to come, both as drivers and as Team FCACA.
We could not be happier with our results as a brand new Team in our first year of rallying”.
Tony – “Congratulations to David Higgins and Leuan Thomas for their storming win”.