Nuts and bolts of rally prep
BEHIND the scenes of the World Rally Championship, crews of mechanics are busy stripping down rally cars, refitting gear boxes and suspensions in preparation for a final fine tune.
As Ken Block's Ford Fiesta sits in the pits of the Rally Australia Service Park, a crew of Ford's finest work from bonnet to bumper, checking and then rechecking every nut, bolt, hose, rivet, pad and part.
The M2 Ford teams are out doing reconnaissance on the Coffs Coast's rally stages, leaving the Fiestas under service and taking to the tracks in 'reccy' vehicles.
It's a well-oiled machine where everyone knows their role as tomorrow night's opening super special stage edges closer.
"The set-up crews arrived on Saturday and the mechanics yesterday and now it's down to business," Ford M2 crew member Stewart Berry said.
Another round of the WRC and another shot at glory for the driving team, but for the crews it's the prospect of day and night running repairs and rebuilds.
"It takes a lot of work to keep these cars running, particularly when new model cars are brought into the rally," Berry said.
"The engines get between two and four rebuilds a year, the gear boxes two rebuilds a year, and before the rallies the cars are stripped down and new suspensions are fitted before every round of the WRC.
A WRC mechanic for 10 years, Berry has seen the world through his trade, happy when new locations such as the Coffs Coast are added to the calendar.
"It's always good to go somewhere different, but here in service as mechanics we tend to rate locations on how difficult the roads are, how many smashes roll in to the workshops and how much work is involved.
"Sweden and Mexico have been the toughest rounds this year in terms of repairs.
"Just how hard the Coffs Coast stages are on the cars, well we won't know until Sunday night," he said.