Tarmac to Gravel

The Darling 200 rally is the last event on the WA rally calendar and run in mid November, the event is often warm and dusty.

This year, we are running a 2 car team in the rally. The first car is a Ford Escort MK2 which will run in the WA Clubman Cup section of the rally as car 4. The second car is one of our familiar WRX rally cars that will run at the rear of the field as car 35.

In 2012, the Escort won the Darling 200 rally, before swapping from active duty on gravel events to  less demanding tarmac historic events. The conversion was straight forward enough, remove the co-driver’s seat and some other gravel specific parts, lower the suspension and re-tune to suit.

Mk2 Escort in tarmac sepc


Whilst the Escort enjoyed a quiet program of just 2 tarmac events, it’s gravel replacement (Nissan 180SX) entered every round of the 2013 WA Rally Championship. The 180SX showed up expected teething troubles during the year and at the last event, a broken radiator and subsequent overheating, led to head gasket failure.

With only 4 weeks between the last 2 gravel rallies of the year the Nissan will receive an engine rebuild and further development during the summer break, in preparation for 2014. With no championship concerns on the run up to the Darling 200, the decision was made to bring the Escort out  for “just one last play” on the gravel.

The Escort returned to our workshop for conversion from tarmac to gravel spec the day before scrutineering for the necessary work. Before a rally, all the competing vehicles need to be inspected for safety and compliance with the rules. This inspection is known Fitting_Escort_Seat_rails_gravel_specas scrutiny and all cars must pass in order to compete.

As the Escort is a former gravel rally car, there wasn’t too much to do. Here’s the list:

  • Fit co-driver’s seat
  • Fit co-driver’s race harness
  • Fit additional roll cage padding
  • Fit 2nd fire extinguisher
  • Fit spare wheel
  • Fit jack and toolsEscort_engine_bay
  • Fit safety triangle
  • Test rally computer
  • Raise suspension to gravel heights
  • Re-fit sump guard
  • Sort and fit rally tyres

After all the items were completed, the Escort was washed and along with the WRX taken to scrutineering. As expected, the cars passed without problems.

Escort_Gravel_spec_Darling_200_readyDuring scrutineering, the event stickers are also issued. These will be applied to the cars before the rally starts.