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RallySport Magazine August 2016

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The August 2016 issue of RallySport Magazine is now available, and includes: Latest news: * Dowel backs rallycross to be bigger than V8 Supercars * Quinn’s Rally Australia WRC car bid falls short * New WRX STi could be Rally America bound * Up to 10 AP4 cars for 2017 NZRC * Skoda R5 for Mark Pedder at Rally Australia Feature stories: * Famous stages - New Zealand’s Motu * A close look at the Skoda Fabia AP4+ * Group B Mitsubishi Starion 4WD remembered * Budget rallying - Hyundai Excel * Where are they now - Wayne Bell * Hayden Paddon column * Vale: Steve Ashton Interviews: * Molly Taylor - Subaru factory driver * David Holder - NZ Rally Champion * Col Trinder - Chairman of ARCom * Emma Gilmour - NZ’s fastest lady Event reports: * Rally of Finland * APRC - China Rally * Catalans Coast Rally * NZ’s Northern Rallysprint Series * Walky 100 Rally, SARC


WHERE ARE THEY NOW: WAYNE BELL ? WHERE are they now WAYNE BELL Wayne Bell is widely regarded as the greatest rally driver never to have won the Australian Rally Championship. The Newcastle native got his big break when he was selected to drive for the factory Marlboro Holden Dealer Team in the 1980s, and spent many years driving a selection of Geminis in the Australian Rally Championship. He was part of the Holden Dealer Team in the 1979 Repco Round Australia Reliability Trial, and later joined forces with Hyundai and ran the Korean company’s first official rally team, contesting the ARC, the APRC and the WRC. Now 64, Bell tells RallySport Magazine of his greatest memories in the sport, how he wasn’t allowed to drive the final days of the ’79 Repco Trial, and his experiences with Hyundai, including being welcomed back to the team at the 2014 Rally of Portugal. Story: PETER WHITTEN You’re widely regarded as the best driver never to win the Australian Rally Championship. How does that sit with you? Yes, I have that honour, if you can call it that. It does not worry me so much, although it would have been nice to have that title. I was actually Australian and Asia- Pacific Champion in Formula 2 (F2) and won WRC events in the class of vehicle I was driving. However, in the overall scheme of things ... big deal! I am satisfied that I was respected by my competitors, and spectators enjoyed my driving style. I am satisfied 40 | RALLYSPORT MAGAZINE - AUGUST 2016 that my career lasted around 30 years, either driving factory cars or fullysupported teams. I never considered myself to be anything special or better than my competitors. Driving came easy to me, I did not have to work at it, and just got in and did my thing. George (Shepheard – Holden Dealer Team boss) never said anything to me as far as my ability was concerned, except once in testing the Gemini for the first time. He said to his wife Marie, who was there at the time: “You have got to go for a ride with Wayne, it is really something else”. I took that as a compliment. The only person to ever really comment was Fred Gocentas when Bell and navigator George Shepheard and the factory Gemini in the 1977 Southern Cross Rally. we were testing in the Fiat. Fred said: “F^%& me, I am pleased you never had a BDA”. I also took that as a compliment, and once Neal Bates said after a test session in Canberra (in a Hyundai Coupe): “S@#t, do you usually drive that hard?”. Also, Murry Coote just reckoned I was crazy. Anyway, to answer your question, no it does not bother me that much. What was your best year in the ARC, and how close did you come to winning the championship? I am hopeless on dates, however, I finished second in the ARC twice I think, for sure once behind Greg Carr. Having my team, Japanese Connection, withdraw halfway through the championship, and some poor decisions on my behalf after that, cost me the championship that year. I only needed to finish the Alpine Rally ahead of Greg’s Alfa, and with the 323 Mazda that should have been a stroll in the park. But no, not me ... I clipped a bank on the first stage and broke the rear suspension. We had no parts, so completed the event with a patched up car held together with wire. I made the mistake of modifying the Mazda to Group A, but should have left it standard - it was fast enough to win. You drove for the factory Holden Dealer Team for many years, largely in what were considered uncompetitive cars (Geminis) against the factory Ford and Datsun teams. Was it a frustrating period, or one where you felt you were punching above your weight? It was a huge honour to be selected for the Dealer Team. Who would not

“In hindsight I should have waited. I wanted to drive for Mitsubishi.” jump at the chance? In hindsight I should have waited. I wanted to drive for Mitsubishi and I think had I not driven for MHDT, then that would have happened. No regrets though, I just loved driving and, to be frank, I did not care what I drove, as long as I was having fun and getting the best out of the machinery I had at that time. I was not getting paid, but it was not costing me to do what I loved either. The Turbo Gemini was a disaster at that time. Technology was not around like it is today. The turbo lag was tremendous, although funnily enough, it suited my style. I liked to be on the throttle early and this simply meant I had to be on it even earlier. The thing was quick when it was going, and we often had quickest stage times. Tell us a bit about the experience of the 1979 Round Australia Trial with Holden? This was something special. I had been testing the old silver Commodore for 12 months prior to this event. George (Shepheard) did a fantastic job setting up the team for the Round Australia. To achieve a 1-2-3 for Holden was unbelievable. It is history now that Brocky and I were having a right tussle and George did not interfere, saying they would sort it out. Before Townsville, in car 17, we had decided to back off and let Brocky go and we would cruise to a comfortable second. We figured GM could get better publicity from Brocky winning than us. However, there was a big team meeting in Townsville that I was not privy to. I was stuffed and needed sleep. After Townsville I never got to drive the car again. I had to ask Fergy (Barry Ferguson) to let me drive into Newcastle, my home town, and he reluctantly agreed. I don’t know what went down in Townsville to this day, but I am pretty sure instructions were for Brock to win, and I don’t think the big brass at GM trusted me to let that happen. I don’t know what I did, but from that day on I was out of favour with GMH management. Years later I got an email from GM asking if I would drive a Calibra in Targa Tasmania. I replied that I would love to, and jokingly said “No second place this time”. The MHDT Gemini in the Endrust Rally in South Australia, and in a Castrol International Rally (below) I never heard back, and next thing I know Ed Ordynski was driving it. Such is life! I do thank George for having the belief in me as a driver, and together we had a lot of fun times. We had a great team, if not the most competitive car. Still, we achieved some outstanding results in the little Twin Cam Gemini. When four-wheel drive came along, you drove a very fast Mazda 323. What was the change from rear-wheel drive to four-wheel drive like? As I said earlier, Japanese Connection withdrew their support so I was without a drive. Lovell Springs were the main sponsor and Robert Lovell (an absolute gentleman) said “go and buy another car”. Problem solved! Andrew Murfett had a 323 for sale, his old rally car that he had just taken all the rally gear out of and converted it back to a road car. I got him to chuck all the parts in the boot and send it to me. It arrived three weeks before the SA AUGUST 2016 - RALLYSPORT MAGAZINE | 41

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