At peak performance

Simon Lingford with his trusty Datsun 240z Picture: Emma Reeves d408831
Simon Lingford with his trusty Datsun 240z Picture: Emma Reeves d408831

The veteran rally driver and proprietor of the recently established Platinum Auto Services, in Wangara, specialises in servicing and rebuilding high performance cars, including modified racing Ferraris, luxury Mercedes-Benz and Lexus hybrids.

For the past 30 years, Mr Lingford has worked as a mechanic, after initially starting out as an apprentice in the ‘black country’ of Midlands, England.

‘During the Industrial Revolution it became one of the most industrialised parts of Britain, so I learnt a lot there,’ Mr Lingford said.

He made the move to Australia in his early twenties and continued to work as a general mechanic, but also put his rally car skills to the test.

‘I first started in 1992 and did the WA state championships.’

After gaining two top placings, Mr Lingford went on to compete in the 1997 Australian Rally Championship, where he placed fifth.

The following year he came third.

He was then able to compete in the premiere world car racing event, Rally Australia.

‘It’s a world championship, I ended up coming 20th, but it was still a considerable effort.

‘I was competing in a $30,000 Mitsubishi Lancer and I was up against $10 million dollar world rally cars.’

In 2000, Mr Lingford, and his navigator David Moir decided to compete in the London to Sydney Marathon Rally.

While the majority of the 100 competitors had sponsorship and back-up crews travelling with them, Mr Lingford loaded up his trusty Datsun 240z with every spare part he could think of and went on his way.

The pair started in London and travelled through 11 countries, covering a distance of 19,000km, which included a series of gravel and tarmac rally races they were required to complete along the way.

After the month long race, the Datsun rolled over the finish line in fourth place.

‘It was brilliant, especially because we beat so many world champions as we didn’t have a support crew.’

Mr Lingford said his tactic of keeping normal tyres on the car, even when they raced on gravel, helped give him a distinct advantage.

‘I knew from previously experience that normal tyres on gravel can still be used.

‘We didn’t change our tyres and gained speed on the tarmac.’

Despite his impressive placing, Mr Lingford doesn’t plan on entering the rally again, due to the cost involved.

He instead channels his mechanical knowledge, which played a crucial part in his London to Sydney rally success, into four mechanic businesses.

Sarah Waters