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Rally Here We Come! (aka: what have I done???)

Since I was a teenager, I remember playing the video game – ‘Colin McRae Rally’ – on the various video game consoles and then on the PC and I remember dreaming what it would be like to one day drive my own rally car. Growing up since then, I regularly played other rally games and still the fire inside me burned. Here’s a memory of old which just struck me like a lightning bolt: ages and ages ago…I rounded a round-about under construction in my 2003 Hyundai Accent which was modified. The roundabout was all gravel, and whilst my Accent was near-new and very doted-after and shiny, as I negotiated the roundabout, I remember giving it some welly in 2nd gear and I distinctly remember the smile burn itself across my face as the front wheels did their thing and the car came around. Being that my Accent was in very good condition however, I never pursued my passion of rallying. But, interesting that that moment was seemingly forever ingrained in my memory…

WELL…fast forward about…hmm…a WHOLE DECADE…

The other week I was sitting at work, browsing the Internet (on my lunch break of course…) and suddenly came upon a forum where users described amateur car rallying. It was a Hyundai Excel rally forum. It instantly piqued my interest. Unfortunately however, the events were all held anywhere else but in my state (which is Western Australia). My hopes dashed, once again thinking that our state never gets anything fun…I then came upon www.rallyaction.com.au!

I found out that they recently built a track in WA and had already run the first rally round in March 2017! And better yet…round 2 was scheduled for May! Only about a month away!! After scouring their web page and taking-in as much info as I could, I rang the event organiser on the phone and had a nice chat about the event in more detail. After confirming some of my queries, I was happy to proceed!

So naturally, I went online and started looking for vehicles…I initially looked at Hyundai Excels…I’m a bit of a ‘Hyundai Nerd’ (the original, according to some of my friends), so of course I was going to try to fly Hyundai’s flag as much as possible. I found a great candidate in one Hyundai Excel. It seemed perfect, good paint, low mileage, and VERY CHEAP – $1,200 cheap! I phone the seller, however it seemed that I had missed it by only hours, as the seller mentioned that it was literally just sold 30 minutes earlier!

My hopes dashed – for the second time – I went-on to look at other vehicles…and somehow…came upon a 2001 Hyundai Accent. In Silver (one of my favourite colours). I learnt to drive in one of these cars too…so naturally I guess I had an affinity for them. Sure, it was priced at $2,000, but that price was still manageable. Plus I figured I could probably knock the seller down a few hundred.

I messaged the owner, who stated it was still available, so off I went then, to take a look…at 6.30 pm in the evening, when it was well-dark!

The couple I bought it off were nice enough. The wife was obviously sad to see it go, but hey, I’ve been in that position more than once now and I definitely know the feeling. Apparently, it was her car that she learnt to drive in and they apparently owned it for eight years.

In case you’re asking why an Accent, well, this car once featured in the WRC (quite successfully, I might add). I doubt I will reach such lofty heights as the WRC with this vehicle, but hey, it’s a start, right?

The vehicle is a bit rough around the edges paintwork-wise (clear-coat deteriorating on some panels and lots of bumps and scratches, but mechanically, it seems robust enough. The best thing is, the car only has 163,000 odd kms on it! For a 2001 vehicle, this is quite good! Whilst the service history is severely lacking, the oil colour in the engine is still golden and the oil change sticker on the windshield indicates an oil change required at 167k kms…so not bad! Unfortunately, the coolant is another story…it’s basically water! But not too rusty or muddy from what I can tell. Still, I intend to get that changed out ASAP and flushed and replaced with quality coolant.

Otherwise, the vehicle drives fine. As aforementioned, because I learnt to drive in a vehicle just like this, so memories came flooding back as I bought the car and drove off! The best part, I knocked the seller down from the advertised price of $2k to $1,800. That’s $200 in my pocket to pay for the rally entry fee…which is, incidentally, $200!

Within minutes of getting the car home that night, I started stripping-out the interior…this included removing the rear seat and parcel shelf trim. The spare tyre and basic tools as well as some spare oil will have to stay, given the nature of rallying…better to be safe than sorry!

This car has a princely 100-ish horsepower, is front-wheel-drive, but only weighs sub-1000 kg in factory trim (I think the official figure is somewhere around 960 kgs). I figure that stripping it down will save me about 40-50 kg and with some skillful driving, I should have a fighting chance…especially when I read that round one of the Gravel Action Sprint was actually won by a Ford Laser – a front wheel drive vehicle – in a field of turbo all-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars! So I figure, I should hopefully have a fighting chance…once I get my driving experience up to task, that is!!

All that said, I should note that I don’t intend to fully ‘soup-up’ this vehicle…even though I may sometimes refer to it as the ‘Rally Beast’ haha…this is more just a vehicle to ‘get my feet wet’ in the rally world and who knows where it may take me if I like rallying more than I already think I do!

Here’s some links to the rally event I’m entering and the organisers:

http://www.rallyaction.com.au/

http://www.rallyaction.com.au/sprint/

Also, here’s a video summary of round one, where you will see the winner of the rally, a Ford Laser…

I will close this introductory post here, save for including a few photos…more updates soon! Enjoy!

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