Round 3 of the Techworkz Development Rally Series and Round 4 of the ACT Regional Rally Series was held in the Coastal Town of Narooma on the NSW South Coast. Since 2014 it has been brought back into the NSW Rally Championship and uses many of the Bodalla State Forestry Roads with 3 Special Stages run twice throughout the day.
This year’s event attracts a big entry list with 57 entries of all different types of vehicles. The event is a great opportunity for newcomers to the sport to test out their skills with roadbooks provided and pace-notes for the more experienced teams. Many main game ARC Teams such as Mick Patton and Steve Glenney (Mitsubishi Evolution X) , Chris Higgs and Daymon Nicoli (Subaru WRX STi GC8), Lewis Bates and Dale Moscatt (Toyota Corolla Sportivo) and father and daughter duo, Andrew and Kirra Penny (Subaru WRX STi) entered as a practice round for the Championship due to the long mid-season winter break.
This being my first time in Narooma for the Rally I didn’t know what to expect for the day.
Starting off at service park, teams fired up their cars in the cool air. The weather was not disappointing anybody’s day.
Special Stage 1 offered a nice tight right hander over crest. Some of the trees at this point were cleared making for a nice photo opportunity. At this point the cars would be flat out on a long downhill straight and under brakes they need to negotiate the tight right hander that flows over a steep crest and onto another uphill straight.
Setting up on the entry of the corner I wanted to capture the cars under brakes and sideways. Mick Patton starting off the field was very sideways and clearing a lot of the loose rocks but still equally fast through the right hander.
Switching to the inside of the corner gave me an interesting way to pan the cars as they came over the crest. The great thing about popular Club Rallies is the vast majority of cars, from the brand new to the classics are all here giving it a crack on these beautiful dusty roads. The RWD guys were entertaining as always which proved great for the photographers with the cars stepping sideways.
One eye catching car in the field was the works painted Datsun Stanza of Craig Kenchington and Angus Fraser. Unfortunately blowing a differential on the 4th stage of the day put them out of action.
With the morning light peering above the trees it was a perfect opportunity to shoot the cars with a backlit source.
The Stage 3 media point was a fast left hander over crest, which would prove interesting for the front runners as they negotiate a long fast run up into the narrow left. Most cars backed off coming into the point for obvious reasons, as to not bin their cars. Car 6: Jason Giddins and Katie Fletcher in their Subaru WRX STi GC8 were the most lively of the front runners.
The wideness of the intersection, panning was the preferred choice to make photos look interesting.
Dust was a big problem throughout the day with the lack of rain in the recent weeks, with a few competitors being caught out in the dust, the result was extending the starting gaps from 2 minutes to 6 minutes.
Due to the limited spots for media the only other option was to drive back to SS4 in the same spot as the morning. With the low sun peering through the trees capturing the sun glare was something unique about rally. After just missing car 1, Chris Higgs and Daymon Nicoli were the first car to pass through.
As Chris passed through all seemed fine, what I didn’t expect was hearing a massive bang about 100m down the road. Sprinting through the dust I knew that Chris had crashed hard into the trees but I wasn’t expecting the car to be upside down and a couple of metres into the forest. After seeing if they were okay and helping them get their things out of the car, I took a look around to find that the car was completely destroyed.
Chris and Daymon felt the car snap to the left on the run down the hill. After looking around the car they saw that the left control arm snapped clean forcing them to venture off into the bush. Very thankful that both guys walked away and it is a testament to the safety in motorsport. This was quite possibly the biggest crash I have ever witnessed in rally first hand.
Lewis Bates entered the event for extra preparation and experience working towards the next round of the Australian Rally Championship in South Australia. His form throughout the day in his Toyota Corolla Sportivo was an achievement in itself, placing 5th outright and 1st in the FWD Class out of a 57 car field just proves how much talent he has at the wheel of a bog standard Corolla.
The final stage of the day we moved to the spectator point; a sharp hairpin left that makes its way uphill. The Narooma Forest Rally is known for its final night stage. For a lot of the front runners they just pass through with enough daylight. Mick Patton was first car through the stage and was the most flamboyant through the hairpin creating a nice dust cloud as he continued into the stage. He eventually went on to win the rally outright.
This being the final stage, it would run straight into the night. Setting up two speedlight flashes was the way to go. I had never shot with two flashes before so this would be a learning experience. Linking up both flashes I had one flash on camera and the other under a sign on the outside of the hairpin pointing towards the apex.
As the cars came through it was trial and error tweaking the settings until I hit the sweet spot. From then on it was just focusing on capturing the cars at the right moment through the hairpin.
Eventually the hairpin struck its first victim in the form of a Grey Nissan Silvia S13. The #29 Silvia went way too late under brakes and under steered into a big ditch. After trying his hardest to get himself free the car was bogged. Spectators leaped from the fence and tried their hardest to free the Silvia; eventually freeing it as the next car on the road passed through in the dust.
In the black of night the cars still passed through, my favourite photo was of the Replica #49 Ford Escort driven by Matthew James and Russell Taylor. Australian rally fanatics will recognise the colours of the Escort that resemble the legendary Ford driven by Greg Carr and Colin Bond during the 80’s Australian Rally Championship.
Outright winners for the 2017 Narooma Forest Rally were:
1st – Mick Patton & Steve Glenney – # 2 Mitsubishi Evolution X: 1:14:08

2nd – Michael Ohagan & Eoin Moynihan – #9 Ford Escort Mk.II – 1:16:513rd – Jason Giddins & Katie Fletcher – #6 Subaru Impreza GC8 – 1:18:07
It is a credit to the rally organisers for how smoothly the event ran. All the planning and hard work leading up to the rally paid off. With a field of 57 cars it was run in a very professional manner. A massive thank you to everyone who volunteered as officials, spectated and supported friends and family for the day. Thanks to Brindabella Motor Sport Club for running another fantastic event, I know we can’t wait until next year’s Narooma Forest Rally. 

Additional Photo Supplied by Wishart Media