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Bonnie Done: A civic update

18/05/09 | by matt [mail] | Categories: Event reports

by Mike Cains

As a sometime journo and professional antagonist of People Who Drive Civics it is my sworn duty to publish the truth of the outcome of the Road to Boonie Doon. Of course, I won't let the facts get in the way of a good story, as was ever my style!

It could have been a weekend of continual, relentless stirring but we got that out of our systems years ago with some creative practical joking and besides, I drive a Honda these days anyway. You could put the Electric Rat in the boot. It was not called that by me but by some competitor who shall remain nameless top protect the guilty.

I did call Mike Siedler at 9:00pm on the Friday to check all was on track but had failed to take into account that Mike and his wife go to bed early on rally nights. I'm unsure if any conjugiality is the reason as this is the only night that Mike is ever in bed before 11:00pm as he is usually working on the car or playing computers so I'm unsure Rosemary took advantage. He did sound sleepy/exhausted as we confirmed the final arrangements though.

So we met at Bonnie Doon after he revenged himself for the previous night's interruption with calls to my mobile every 10km on the way up finally causing me to up the speed to 130kph to make sure I was there to book the car in as he is so shy of having anything organisers can pick on him for. Like the navigator not having produced his license yet, as Mike is still sensitive after the 10 year ongoing Driving Light Saga which I believe has reached a Mexican Standoff mainly because surrender is not in the Relentless Mike's vocabulary. It was also his revenge because the navigator wasn't there to do the obligatory Halda Check with him on his 1st year Engineering Project masquerading as a Terra Trip, sorry, Terror Trip. More on that device later.

I had arrived resplendent (a fancy word for tight) in my ARC driving suit, to be accused of overdressing (for the car) by one wag/dag. Rallying is full of that and they are starting to get braver now they know that Cains can't pay them back in his column. We nicked an intercom connector from Matt Swan enabling Michael to use his $1500
Sparco helmet with inbuilt screaming device and look still even more overdressed. Next time (?) it will be jeans and an ice cream container to see if that silences would be detractors smart comments. They would have laughed uproariously had they seen Michael's you beaut Codriver watch go blank faced when the battery died. Michael S gratefully
donated his watch when it became apparent that I was going to have apoplexy every time I looked at my naked wrist - about four times a minute is usual when rallying.

Everything looked good as we worked out how Michael S likes his calls delivered, and how Michael C was prepared to make them. Common ground was found. It didn't take long to realise that main contention was going to be spatial with continual clashing of ownership of airspace over the gearstick. I was accused of elbow flapping although my right
elbow was continually on the left side of my navel. Amputation was seriously discussed. I was wondering how Dr Hughes managed being longer of limb until Mike retorted that Rob is left handed. I tried that but was only successful in sticking the pen up my nose.

Navigators fitness was immediately called into question at the first competitive where the control manned by Sue Evans was set about half a kilometer up the road from the control board. Sue, of course, likes walking up hills as part of her elite fitness regime and saw no problem despite incoherent navigators arriving with purple faces. It was ironic that this was a steep uphill start, as were more than a few controls in
the event, making me realise that my one time exploit of Civic Racing was a no contest before it started. Even with its new strong 1400cc whizzbang motor the Civic needs more than a push and a set of extra pedals to make time going up hills. Civics hate hills. But they love braking. Once Mike S had SS1 out of the way and was driving the car and
not motoring around dirt banks, it became obvious that you can leave the braking late. Very late. Mike is a self acknowledged survivor, not a hero, so we never got to find out just how deep you can go but I suspect it is very deep if you were suicidally game. Mike leaves that for the idiots with larger bank accounts and smaller mortgages.

I didn't give Mike any stage times and he is one of the few drivers who hasn't insisted on this. Just as well because I had forgotten how to calculate them. I did A to A by memory and instinct for the first couple of stages until I got the hang of it again.

We found we had beaten at least three cars by SS3, one of them being Swan and Franklin in the WRX lying on its side next to two grumpy crew members. We passed them like they were standing still. They were over-awed with the pace of the Civic as it easily traversed the straight bit of road that had been their undoing. (very funny Mike - Matt) We could guess this by the unique hand and finger signals they were making at us as we raced past.

By SS3 Mike was starting to loosen up, and even putting up with approximate calls from his navigator, struggling to read distances on the aforementioned Engineering Project masquerading as a distance measuring device. We resorted to the old trick or waiting for the caution boards and then making a call that was accurate to within Robin Smalley's mandatory 50 metres. A combination of sunlight, vibration, and 50+ year old eyes accounted for this but as there were so few instructions, lots of signs and arrows, calls were not essential and the navigator quickly realised his function was that of weight distributing ballast. Mike S did appreciate the call of "big rock in the middle" If the Civic had hit that the car would have had such an impact that the front bumper would have been rubbing on the wheels. The back wheels.

So just when MJS was getting a bit cocky as he allows himself to be (and can you tell anyway?) a corner attacked back and spun the little Civic into a bank denting a front bumper and driver's pride. But nothing was out of place or stopped working and after working out which was the right direction in our own dust, we made it to Nillacootie Service where an enterprising service crew, a steel cable and both feet on the brake fixed any problems although the Civic was looking a bit despondent in the front end.

We were passing more cars like they were standing still including a green Commodore on its way to Sims Metal. And lots of control officials enjoying a perfect day for rallying. Dust was there but never a problem until we made it one later. The second run over the same roads saw some of them having ruts that could swallow a Civic. Veritable tram tracks they were, except they were not the correctly specified Honda gauge so Mike had to pick his way around them.

This next part of the rally was where the crew started to enjoy the event and get stuck into the roads, although the co-driver had long ago realised that any exhortation aimed at going faster would have met with hard stares and even harder elbows into the ribs for different reasons.

The only bit of road Michael C felt like going to sleep was the 5km after the quarry where Mike S was taking it very easy because that was where they had spun last time and he did not want to be consistent. So we got to the Nillacootie Service again (didn't there used to be a lake around here somewhere?) and kidded the service crew that we had hit the same bank with the rear end this time, to have them run around excitedly looking for the steel cable. They were most disappointed so we filled and emptied bladders and waited for the exit time as we had already put in a teaspoon of fuel at the half way service.

Unfortunately the Civic Proving Run went downhill from there as it became readily apparent upon taking off on the next competitive that the little Civic was starting to choke and the monster 1400cc engine was being starved and not getting enough fuel. We limped to an SOS point so we could pull over safely and maintain event comms, and also so Mike could swear at the fuel pump that he carried in his HUGE box of spares, although this one didn't have any connectors making it about as useful as a spare wheel for this particular job.. So we limped home in the dust of a car just passed and on the last stage Gentleman Mike waited for a minute for the following car to pass him without being in dust, despite Michael C saying this wasn't necessary as they were in a Datsun.

And that was it. No fisticuffs. No trophy. A re-arranged front end and a fuel pump that has an aversion to higher revs. We came 2nd last of the finishers in this huge field and if we hadn't stopped for the vain repair effort, and to be such gentlemen of the dust we could have come third last. But we finished and that suits me because I hate not finishing. I didn't need to claim danger money as Mike had proved himself a competent steerer who knows exactly how fast he wants to go not how fast he can go in the car that he has had a love affair with for 20 years. So he put it on the trailer and went home after the obligatory postmortem to work on his pride and sometime joy some more.

He will get it to his satisfaction one day I am sure.

Michael Cains
(still deep down a Journalist who likes so rally)

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