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Andy & Danny Brown’s Noora Mexican adventure
Saturday, 02 June 2018
Source: Andrew Stott

While Australian off road racers were tackling the rough and tumble of Keera Station at the second round of the ARB Australian Off Road Championship in April, notable by their absence was regular campaigners Andy and Danny Brown. The reason; the Norra Mexican 1000 – ticking another item off the bucket list.

The NORRA Mexican 1000 is a world class adventure event which is run over five days and covers a massive 1300 miles through the wilds of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The 2018 Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 started in Ensenada and finished five gruelling days later in San Jose del Cabo over the week of 20th to 27th April.

The organisers statement… “we have returned off road motorsport to its roots - camaraderie, hot rodding and fun! The Mexican 1000 Rally is a fully supported on road/off road rally open to vintage and modern vehicles. It will be excitement-filled, with high-performance driving, incredible scenery and world-class adventure.”

The NORRA event follows the FIA definition of a Cross Country Rally with special/racing stages throughout the day, timed individually and linked together by liaisons or transit stages. The longest day combination of special stages and transit stages covered 438 miles. (705 kilometres)

Andy and Danny’s 2018 entry was the first attempt by an Australian team to tackle the event along with 245 other car entrants. Running their 7 litre Alumi Craft and backed by an enthusiastic Australian support team of George Apted, Dale Martin, Daren Wells and Andrew Stott, and further assisted by the Alumi Craft crew of John Cooley and mechanics Matt and Miguel, it was always going to be a serious, yet fun, Mexican adventure.

With Andy driving and Danny in the unfamiliar position of navigating, the father and son team started the event in 15th position. Day 1 finished in the city of San Felipe on the East Coast of the Peninsula with the Browns credibly working their way through the field to sixth outright. Many of the hardened regular American teams were amazed at the abilities of the Aussies.

The course zig-zagged across the peninsula from the east coast to west coast as it headed south covering some of the roughest, driest terrain in the world, traversing the entire length of the Baja Peninsula. The landscape was rugged, rocky and covered with a million cactus with many of the roads they ran on familiar to seasoned Baja travellers and Baja 500 / Baja 1000 competitors; a tough task for our first time Aussies racers.

Day 2 saw the team drop to tenth place after losing time with a flat tyre, but they maintained their overall sixth outright position. Day 3 was the longest day of the rally, racing from Bahia De Los Angeles to Loreto; the Browns managing to hold their position for the day and overall.

Day 4, Loreto to La Paz ‘threw up’ the biggest drama. The Aussie support crew serviced Andy and Danny after their first special stage (66 miles) at the end of their first transit (19 miles). The main support vehicle had progressed further forward up the highway, to be in position, in time, at the end of the second special stage.

The scheduled service required some extra work to be done to rectify an engine water leak. With the leak patched ‘Aussie bush style’ with chewing gum and a piece of stick, the guys were sent out into the second special (91 miles) with no penalty time lost. They were back racing and the Aussie support ‘hired van’ blasted off toward the next service.

The support crew had only gone about 1 mile and heard Danny on the radio calling them to come back. They had started the special and 2 miles in, had thrown a belt. The crew quickly got back to the starting control and were confronted with a wall of competing vehicles staging to start their next competition stage. George (Apted) and Dale (Martin) jumped out of the van and ran through the starting checkpoint. On the other side they found local Mexican spectators with their cars. They quickly convinced two enthusiastic local lads to drive them along the track. They got to Andy and Danny and found the idler pulley had seized and in the process had damaged the post. With a spare pulley and tools in the race car, George got to work. Unfortunately, 30 odd minutes were lost, but they got going and back to full speed. They finished the day in La Paz in 16th position for the day and 12th outright.

The fifth and final day saw Andy and Danny playing catch up with your daily starting position based on your previous days result. Having lost all that time on Day 4, Andy and Danny had a huge last day passing car after car after car. The day consisted of three special stages and in true Aussie spirit they gave it everything; clocking second fastest on the last special.

Andy and Danny finished the event in San Jose Del Cabo in ninth outright and fourth in class; an incredible effort for a first time entry, and we believe the first time an Australian team has entered the event in its 50 year history.

Many of the top American teams were very impressed with the Aussie crew. The accolades bestowed upon the whole team was a credit to all involved.

It certainly was an ADVENTURE…


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