After a major problem on stage 1 of COT 2014, Michael Ward has some unfinished business to take are of in COT16. Let’s meet Michael and hear what’s he doing to get ready…
What car will you be running in the 2016 COT?
I’ll be running my Toyota Corolla TE37 Levin Replica. I built it for the 2014 COT (debuting it in the 2013 Alpine). Unfortunately the gearbox let me down on the first competitive section of the COT. It was replaced, and I finished the event, but down the back of the field.
It started life as a KE35 Corolla Hardtop, and is ground up build carried out by John Rawson at Tayell Automotive in Melbourne. Everything has been built and strengthened with long distance rallying in mind.
It has a 1600 DOHC 2TG motor (as was factory fitted in the Levin). The engine was rebuilt before the last COT with “rally” cams and a slightly worked head, but the rest left “stock” for longevity.
The next step is to install a gearbox with ratios that better match the power range!
Preparation is going well, with a 400 km competitive shakedown being run out of Lakes Entrance at the end of last November – the Alpine Rally! This showed up deficiencies in the exhaust (it broke!) and gearbox (ratios were wrong).
Who will be in your team?
I’ll be competing as part of the Tayell Automotive Rally Team (TART), with Joel Wald/Tracey Dewhurst in the other car. John Rawson is our service manager with Kevin Wilson and Andrew Paice on the spanners. I haven’t finalised a co-driver for me at this stage.
If you’ve competed in the COT before, what has bought you back?
I competed in the COT in 2014. Long distance, endurance style rallies have always appealed to me. With my gearbox failure in the 2014 event, I have “unfinished business”.
What are your expecting from the 2016 COT?
I’m looking forward to “big” outback roads – to extending myself and pushing that little bit harder, especially as the car is now the best I’ve ever driven.
Have you been to Alice Springs before? What are you expecting or looking forward to seeing?
I’ve been to Alice a number of times for various lengths. The first in 1986 when the State Bank Discovery Trial “overnighted” there. I saw the motel room for around 4 hours, the Windscreens O’Brien (for a new windscreen) and the local wrecker (for a flasher can!). I don’t remember a whole lot about the town itself from this visit!
I’ve since been as a tourist and have seen some of the sights around town.
What is/was your favourite rally car?
The one I’m driving now! However, if money were no object, I’d love to own an original Lancia Stratos or Delta
What is your most memorable rallying moment?
There are lots – the State Bank Discovery Trial has many moments – most “bad” – ask me about them on the event – particularly the “star picket” story.
The 2015 Alpine was probably the most enjoyable event I’ve done for a long time – as my shakedown event for the COT there was no pressure to “do well” and I could concentrate on learning about the car and driving more.
What will you be doing to get ready for the 2016 COT?
I’m hoping to get a little fitter and am working with a Personal Trainer on specific things that will help on the expected long days and stages. Car preparation is on pace, as, apart from changing the gearbox and replacing the exhaust, the rest of the preparation should just be maintenance.
Thanks Michael… using The Alpine as a shakedown is a ballsy approach – most would have chosen something shorter! Chookas for COT16 – see you in Alice Springs.