All Fired Up - Rally Australia 1995 Report.
Rally Australia 1995 counts for the following events: 1995 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers and Manufacturers; Round 6 1995 FIA World Rally Championship Ladies Cup; Round 6 1995 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship for Drivers and Manufacturers; Round 4
Kenneth Eriksson, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 3, took victory in the Telstra Rally Australia after holding off a determined challenge from last year's winner Colin McRae. Eriksson finished 19 seconds ahead of McRae and 1m 55s ahead of Juha Kankkunen, who despite a seemingly low podium finish, now leads the WRC driver's championship by 9 points.
Day One: SS1 Langley Superspecial Stage. A record 96 entries rolled over the start ramp at the spectacular Langley Park superspecial stage, situated in the middle of Perth, Western Australia. This evening stage attracted a capacity audience who were entertained by some enthusiastic rally driving. Toyota had send 4 cars for this event, Subaru 3 and Ford & Mitsubishi two each. However, probably the most interest generated that night was an entry by Michael Kahlfuss and Ronald Bauer who drove a 560cc 2 stroke two cylinder VEB Sachsen Trabant! Auriol equalled Kankunnen's 1993 time of 1m 35s and by the end of the evening, Toyota held first, second and third, courtesy of Kankunnen and Schwarz.
Day One: SS2 - SS13. The first 'real' day of the rally saw the competitors tackle nearly 200km of special stages; many of which contained the infamous "ball-bearing" gravel. Auriol began well and set the fastest time on the SS2 Myara stage. The Imprezas looked a bit techy on the slippery surfaces and McRae, the fastest of the 555 trio, was a good 12s behind the leader. Fortune did not smile on the Subaru's. Possum Bourne rolled his car several times on the next stage which effectively put an end to his Asia-Pacific title hopes. Carlos Sainz had trouble maintaining the pace after such a lengthy absence from gravel competition and a punctured radiator on the 45km SS8 Wellington Dam stage ended his rally shortly after. Auriol looked good for a while until he rolled his car on SS12 Murray River. Damage was minimal and the car was soon back on the road. However, a broken alternator belt sustained during the roll cut the electronic in the car and his rally was also over. Kankunnen showed his form and a string of fastest times saw him lead the rest of the pack back to the Langley Park superstage. The evening ended with another fastest time by the Finn who lead McRae, Eriksson and Makinen. However, only 29 seconds separated the first four cars with 2 days to go.
Day 2: SS14 - SS20. Day 2 of the rally saw the drivers tackle two stages in the hilly area north of Perth before heading south for 5 stages in the Bunnings timber complex. These stages proved hugely popular this year with a sellout crowd and huge traffic jams par for the course. Eriksson got the ball rolling with two fastest times for SS14 and SS15. Kankunnen's lead had vanished by the time the time the Bunnings stages got underway and a real fight began to emerge between Eriksson and McRae. Eriksson, opting for a softer suspension setting, easily outgunned the Toyota of Kankunnen but McRae began to charge and soon joined Eriksson as co-leader. Kankunnen clearly had suspension problems with his car and his mechanics worked frantically to solve the problem. SS18 Bunnings West saw the spectacular demise of Francois Delecour who slid wide about 1km from the end of the stage and collided head-on with a tree. Armin Schwarz, on the other hand, found his rhythm and set the fastest time for this stage. Kankunnen and Schwarz set the fastest times for the final spin around Langley later that night (1m 37s). However, the evening ended with a blazing run by McRae which again put him in equal first with Eriksson. Eriksson would have the job of leading the cars out the following morning since he had set a quicker time than McRae on the first day of the rally.
Day 3: SS22 - SS30. The scrap between Eriksson and McRae began badly for McRae who stalled the Subaru's engine on the first stage and allowing Eriksson to maintain a 7 sec lead. McRae managed to reduce the deficit to 4 sec on the third stage of the day but it all came a bit unstuck on the next stage. Eriksson drove a fantastic sprint and took 9 sec off McRae and also set a new stage record. Kankunnen was still hanging in there but at over 1 min behind, never really posed a threat. The competitors tackled the Muresk special stage twice in a row this year, with cars starting 2 min apart and the lead cars being re-inserted into the lineup at 1 min intervals. Great stuff!. By the end of SS29 Mt Observation, Eriksson had extended his lead over McRae to 24 sec but the Scotsman wouldn't give up. McRae flew through the final stage of the rally but ran wide on a corner and lost any time he had made up. Eriksson and Parmander has won the rally by a close/comfortable 19 sec after 3 days and 500km of special stage rallying.
PS: The Trabby finished the rally and came 45th outright (time 7:49.17).
Final Standings: Time Eriksson/Parmander 4:53.59 McRae/Ringer 4:54.18 Kankunnen/Grist 4:55.54 Makinen/Harjanne 4:57.26 Thiry/Prevot 5:10.51
World Drivers Championship: Kankunnen (62); McRae (55); Auriol (51) World Manufacturer's Championship: Toyota (260); Mitsubishi (255); Subaru (222); Ford (184). Asia Pacific Championship: Eriksson (63); McRae (55), Makinen (37) A/P Manufacturer's Championship: Mitsubishi (117); Subaru (106); Toyota (54), Ford (41).
Darryl Peroni: motorsport photographer (and sometimes journalist). firstname.lastname@example.org
Rally Photos from Rally Australia 1993-1995 available. Check out www.jyu.fi/~pakar for a sample of my work (under the Rally Australia page)