Within a month of attending my first stage rally, I had bought a 1991 Galant VR4 to begin building into a rally car of my own. I made my way to GalantVR4.org, where I happened across Ross Cox. He lives down under in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and rally races a 1989 Galant VR4. Within the first six months of launching GBXM, I was interviewing Ross. A couple months later, I caught up with him after Benarkin. Ross and I have kept in touch on and off over the years, even shipping the odd car part back and forth, but we haven’t done another follow up interview. That changed recently.
I asked Ross about the biggest setback he’s faced since last we talked cars. He told me, “After spending September 2011 to May 2012 refurbishing the VR4 rally car, I put the engine and gearbox into the car a fortnight before I was to race in the International Rally of Queensland and went to start it. No go, and after some swearing and stripping of a newly finished engine loom, I discovered the ignition pulse wire to the transistor in the ignition system was folded back in the loom. A busy three nights to find that one.”
“On the Wednesday before the event, I delivered the car to the dyno and received a call about 4 hours later; the bloke informed me the compression was 155/72/155/155 and he would be unable to tune the car. He set the ignition map for me and I decided I would run the car as it was, as there was no real indication of excess oil loss/use and the temp stayed stable. That engine ran faultlessly all year, only starting to consume a little oil in the second-to-last rally of the season. I put new oil and a new filter into the car before Gallangowan 2012, hoping it would finish. We finished 14th outright, but the smoke was appearing from the exhaust as the event went on.”
The old saying goes, “In order to finish first, you must first finish.” Fortunately, it sounds like Ross’s Galant held out for the duration of the season. I know plenty of folks who won’t fart along in traffic with compression numbers like Ross had that fateful day on the rollers. How did the R. Sout rally team fare?
Ross told me, “In 2012 season, we won P6 class [4WD cars built prior to January 1991] and finished 4th outright in the Queensland Championship. Admittedly there were only four cars in P6 this year, but consistent finishes in the championship were the telling point. I had no breakdowns and no offs that were sufficient to stop us finishing. Apart from general maintenance, the car performed flawlessly all year. An alternator failure in the penultimate multi-club rally was the only problem, and that happened on the liaison back to the service park after the event finished.” On top of that, his newbie co-driver, Ian Swinbourne, was on-point with the notes, keeping them on time (and netting Swinbourne a 3rd place finish in the championship).
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
When I get back in touch with folks I’ve interviewed over the years, I like to ask where they’ve been and where they’re going, but it’s also important to find out where they are right now. We all face setbacks from time to time. It’s important we see how we’re not alone in dealing with them. So where is Ross at these days?
“The Minister for Finance and Recreation [wink] has lots of house jobs lined up for me during the summer. I will need to be a little crafty to spend time with the (VR4) mistress. I have the VR4 in the shed waiting engine and gearbox rebuilds. Manley rods and pistons, nitrided crank, freshen up the head, and maybe re-tune for no restrictor in the turbo.” Them Ozzie boys are lucky in that regulations have been changed. They no longer have to run the 34mm inlet restrictor on their turbochargers. He’s also fitting an RS close ratio gearbox with a Torsen-Quaife front LSD. Should be fun to drive.
A LOOK AHEAD (SPONSORSHIP)
“After such a fine year in 2012, Ian and I are aiming for a class win in 2013 and another Top 10 finish in the championship. It will be more of a challenge in 2013, as there quite a few cars being finished off for next season.” Fortunately, R. Sout has managed to nail down some solid sponsors for the 2013 season. Since sponsors can be hard to come by and I’m curious about how teams handle their business partners, I asked Ross for more details.
“Wholesale Building Solutions, from a country business centre type town called Gympie (pronounced “Gimpee”), at the Northern End of the Sunshine Coast. As they are reasonably new, the Principal, Karra Corbet, is looking for exposure to the population of the South-East corner of Queensland. The International Rally of Queensland (IRoQ) is held about 20kms (12mi) away from Gympie in the Imbil area. As 30-50,000 people watch the event over four days and the cars will transit back and forth on the highways, we could see it may be an attractive option. IRoQ also has VIP viewing areas to which Wholesale Building Solutions can send top customers and staff for a closeup, catered look at forest rallying,” Ross told me. VIP ride days are also incorporated into the IRoQ experience, and he coordinates other ride days throughout the year.
Beyond that, two other Queensland Rally Championship events are held in the forests within 100km (60mi) of Gympie, meaning Ross and Ian will be getting Wholesale Building Solutions name in front of a lot of people, but they aren’t stopping with a couple stickers at a race or two. This is a serious partnership. “The company is involved in other social events in Gympie on a monthly basis and we will have the car there, washed and cleaned up for static display to all who are in attendance,” Ross tells me. “The car will be liveried almost exclusively with Wholesale Building Solutions name and details, we will wear embroidered shirts at events, and have our rally pit area signed and bannered, too.”
Sponsorship is all about relationships. The R. Sout team has been listening to potential sponsors in order to tailor a program to their unique needs. That’s how they’ve also received a cash sponsorship to go towards that rebuilt engine and gearbox, and earned some special attention from MCA Suspension at Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast, which should make the VR4 less of a handful over rough patches of road.
PRESSING ON REGARDLESS
Right now, I know of FOUR Galant VR4 rally cars here in Phoenix, Arizona. None of them have rallied in at least three years. (Okay. Mine’s never rallied, but hey, I’ve got a magazine to run.) Ross, on the other hand, is handling his rally business down under. After a fairly successful 2012 – much of which run with a tired engine – he’s getting ready to show the Sunshine Coast why they call themselves R. Sout.