Rally of the Heartland brings SARC driver Paul Knopka home

Flicking up dust is where Paul Knopka feels most at home. Source: Facebook.
Flicking up dust is where Paul Knopka feels most at home. Source: Facebook.

It was a familiar dusty breeze flowing through the air for rally driver Paul Knopka when he took on the Rally SA - Rally of the Heartland at the beginning of June.

The wind turbines, sunburned landscape and cold Mid North air all made Mr Knopka feel right at home as he competed in the June 3 South Australia Rally Championship event.

The 41 year old – who was born at the Jamestown hospital – had only recently taken to statewide rally sport and started competing on the state stage this year.

He joined a rally club in 2013 and had been competing in club events for the last three years but decided this year that the statewide league was the way to go.

“I’ve just always liked to drive on dirt,” Mr Knopka said.

“As a kid, we were always out and about skidding around ... and then we moved to the city, got away from all that – you know, the country life.”

The Rally of the Heartland marked the second time Mr Knopka had competed in a SARC event, finishing up in 6th place.

During the first stage, he said he blew the rear shocks, bent the right strut, and flattened a tyre but preserved through the 78 kilometre sprint. 

He was 30 km into the stage when his tyre blew.

Dispite a bit of bad luck when it came to keeping the WRX in perfect running condition, Mr Knopka said the experience was incredible.

“It brought back memories of driving around the country roads, through the country property and through the hills,” he said.

“It’s the scenery which bought back the memories of when I visited relatives when I was growing up in the area.”

The nostalgia got the better of him at times and he found himself giving his competitors and team a local run down of where he used to visit or hang out as a kid.

“I pointed out to the co-driver things like the Midnight Oil House on the side of the road, and where my relatives used to live,” Mr Knopka said.

He said his mother lives in Bundaleer North and she was excited about him coming up from Adelaide to rally through the landscape which he grew up on.

Mr Knopka is also looking for some more sponsorship so he can continue doing what he loves. To find out more or get in contact with him, visit his facebook page.