WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2009
A VERSATILE DANE TAKES THE WIN AT CLASSIC ADELAIDE
The month of November has been very successful for Allan Simonsen, with two major international victories. Last weekend, he took Modern Category honours at the 4.5 day Classic Adelaide tarmac rally, held in the hills and vineyards of South Australia. Earlier in the month, the versatile Dane, was crowned Asian Le Mans GT2 Champion after a stunning win in Okayama, Japan.

Driving the Australian Financial Mitsubishi EVO-9 alongside co-driver Matt Lee, Simonsen was unbeatable and set the fastest outright times and lowest elasped time to win the Modern Category, which was being run for the first time.

Until now, Classic Adelaide only allowed cars built on or before 1982 to compete. To some extent this is still true, with cars of that vintage being the only ones allowed to 'win' the title. Cars built after 1982 run in a new category - Modern - but in an effort to try and keep the 'classic' feel of the evnet, organisers refuse to acknowledge that the fastest car, which was Allan, is the outright winner. Confusing for some. Annoying for others.
An opportunity for some.

Most serious competitors had taken 3 or 4 days out of their busy schedules to perform recce of the 4 day course in a road car. It also gave them a taste of what was to come - extreme heat!


Allan and Matt had used the Sunday to Wednesday a week prior for recce and temperatures were topping 39C. This was the earliest and hottest heatwave ever recorded in South Australia during November.


Simonsen was outright fastest at Classic Adelaide
2009 in the newly introduced Modern Class

As race week approached it was clear that it would be a scorcher.

Wednesday was prologue day - a short run up a part of the disused main highway to Melbourne in the Adelaide Hills, called Eagle on the Hill, to set day 1 start order. Forecast: 41C

This gave some concern to organisers - how to keep the large amount of officials and spectators hydrated during the afternoon spectular.

For the competitors, especially those with modern turbo cars, there was worry that the big V8's of yesteryear could beat them to the top.

Big guns were turning up in the Modern Class: Tony Quinn with his Nissan R35, fresh from winning Targa Tasmania and Targa NZ, a top 10 finish at Nürburgring 24 Hour and a win earlier in the year at the 24 Hours of Dubai – a race that Allan had led until mechanical problems forced his Porsche 997 RSR GT3 out.

Previous Bathurst 1000 winner and regular tarmac rally front-runner Tony Longhurst was there with his Subaru WRX STi - he'd go on to record the fastest time in the prologue, thus seeding him as the first car on the road, come day 1.

Steve Jones teamed up with Ben Searcy, in another R35, fresh from victory in Targa West. Searcy had co-driven with Simonsen in 2007, where they both tasted victory at Lake Mountain and Rally Tasmania. Each now knew each others strengths. And weaknesses!
By the time Allan did his run up the Eagle, it was 41.5C. Despite that, he'd take 2nd place, just over 1.5 seconds off Longhurst, with the two R35's of Quinn and Jones directly behind.

"It wasn't an ideal run, said Allan, who looked remarkable fresh considering the temperatures and the need for a balaclava and heavy fireproof race suit.

"We had to much tyre pressure and I got a lot of push going up. And when we went to start there was a warning light saying the ambient air temp was too high making the engine management shut down a bit. Still, 2nd was an ok place to be.

"I've made a call on tyres based on what the weather will be. Tomorrow will be hotter but then I think the rain will come here. The weather data I am getting is very accurate. That's why I came here straight after Okayama, over 2 weeks ago, to see how well the reports would come true. I think we have a great chance."

The entire population of Adelaide was groaning about the heat. Even dogs were feeling ill. And Thursday was meant to be a whopping 43C.

By morning tea at Gumeracha oval, Allan was struggling. The car did not like the heat but that was almost expected. Tony Quinn took the initial honours. Lunch at Tanunda was almost unbearable. And then the return to Adelaide in a whopping 45.1C! Imagine the heat inside the cars! By the time they reached Parce Fermé, Allan was 5th. But a weather change was already in the air. But so was immense sadness for the entire community.

Co-driver/Navigator Matt Lee did a sensational job

On the Kersbrook Reverse stage, directly after lunch, well known tarmac racer Gary Tierney and his co-driver David Carra, lost their lives when their 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera, slid off the road and hit a tree side on, killing them instantly. Such likeable guys had been taken away doing what the loved most.

Friday morning saw the rally moves south into the Fleureau Peninsula, via Yankalilla and onto Goolwa, the mouth of the great Murray River, for lunch. And as predicted, it was raining.

Allan was upbeat at Goolwa, yet reflective of yesterday.

"I am deeply saddened by the events of yesterday but those guys would have wanted us to keep the rally going.
"Today we've clawed back some time, I think 15 seconds on Longhurst in one stage, so we're back on target.

And so they were, moving to the lead by the end of day 2.

Saturday - Day 3 - more rain. The first stage - Montecute, would claim the Nissan of Quinn, who fell off the road in the first kilometre and into a stream (! 2 days ago it was dry as a bone !) ending his rally.

By stage 3, Ironbank, Longhurst would also retire, with a blown head gasket, perhaps from pushing too hard. The morning would claim others further down the field and that was reflected at the Macclesfield lunch stop, where we found the Dane grinning, and taking time to pat a very riendly local sausage dog.

"Looks like our call on weather and tyre choice (medium) is paying off. Now that two major threats are gone we can ease up a bit but Jonesy is still 90 seconds behind, so its only a slight relax.

Fast afternoon runs through Flaxley Long and Mount Compass went well for all but Steve Glenney, the 2008 Targa Tasmania winner, who incidently had used the same car as Allan was driving - he'd dropped a engine belt ending his campaign.

By Saturday night, Simonsen and Lee had a strong gap and took time out to show off the car and meet fans at the inaugural Norwood Parade Street Party.

Sunday morning - Day 4 - wet again, and the EVO pairing continued their dominance. By lunchtime at McLaren's on the Lake, they pretty much had the event in their palm.


Passing the Scenic Hotel at Norton Summit (Day 3)
With three stages to go - Chapel Hill, Coromandel Reverse and Windy Point, they contunied to take time off the others to arrive first at the Hyde Park final control. Fastest times. Lowest elasped time. The winners of the new Modern Class!

And that was the winning month of Novemember - a fitting finish to a great year spanning British GT, V8 Supercars, Le Mans Sersies, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona and Dubai, The Asian Le Mans Series and Australian GT.

On the podium with the Official Media Sausage
As Allan headed to the airport on Monday morning, he reflected on the experience.

"Such hot weather! Wow I'm going to miss it. I'm going home to negative temperatures, in Denmark.

He'd also miss the Japanese teppanyaki bbq's, thats yours truly had been cooking for him in the two weeks prior to the event.

"I think you deserve a nice holiday mate, I said.

"Absolutely!, said Allan, "but I have a 24 Hour charity go kart race this weekend in Copenhagen. I've recruited the new world champion who is a French guy and a band member from Aqua plus a few other race stars. Hopefully I can just give the orders and not do too much driving.

But, dear reader, its highly unlikely that Allan will be able to keep his bum out of the race seat. After all, whats one more sneaky 24 Hour race when you've done three already this year!

For those intersted in some funny stories from behind the scenes and the sounds of Classic Adelaide and Australia, you can listen to the latest two podcasts from Radio HOTLAP.

Episode 132 puts Allan in the hot seat after his Le Mans adventures in Japan, whilst Episode 133 is a 2 hour wrap up of Classic Adelaide as we tour around the vineyards and hills over four wonderful days.

Enjoy, and well see you all in 2010, when Allan adds drifting to his expertise.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL