Penny Homes Holden Rally Team drivers Josh Marston and Greg Murphy achieved exactly what they wanted at Rally Canterbury on 4 June – to get both their Holden Barina AP4+ rally cars to the finish.
In a rally where plenty of competitors were caught out by the wet and very muddy conditions, Marston and co-driver Andrew Graves were particularly pleased to bring the new-this-season Barina home in fourth place overall. They were also third in New Zealand Rally Championship class one. With some hard work by the RDL Performance crew which runs the two-car team, Murphy and co-driver Mark Leonard overcame a driveshaft issue to bring their Barina home in 11th place overall.
“A very tough and long day,” says Murphy of the one-day Canterbury Rally which is the third round of the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship and took place around Rangiora. “A lot of cars had issues so we were stoked to finish. Josh drove great all day and had his fair share of problems too, but to get both cars to the finish was fantastic. A massive job by our guys to get us all through.”
Marston adds: “It was really good – and a relief – to get to the finish and in a good place. Huge thanks to the team. They’ve worked so hard lately to get both cars to this rally. I feel we’re getting a really good direction with the cars now; it’s great. Even though we had a few problems in the rally, they’re all things we can get sorted. The cars are definitely showing the potential we expected of them.”
Problems with driveshafts hampered both cars in the second of the 10-stage itinerary.
Marston says: “The first two stages were alright; I was pleasantly surprised with the grip and the MRF tyres were working really well – they had great grip in the loose mud so we could push on. But after a spin in stage two, the car went into rear-wheel-drive – a CV joint had popped out of the gearbox, so the boys fixed that at service.”
Murphy says: “Our guys worked hard in service to fix the driveshaft problem from stage two and we were late out, so incurred time penalties there. Unfortunately, not long into stage three, the problem reoccurred, so we ran stages three and four with no front wheel drive, taking it easy through those stages to get back to service. Thanks the Hyundai/Paddon RallySport and Force Motorsport crews who all dived into help our guys replace the driveshaft, so we could continue.”
Marston enjoyed steady times and good, clean runs on the next group of stages. “But on the repeat passes, it got really slippery with the roads cut up. The car then developed a handling problem so we more or less cruised through the last few stages in order to get the finish; I didn’t want to take any risks.”
Running in the two night stages which wrap up the rally’s 195.15 competitive kilometres near Ashley Forest, Murphy was able to set two third-quickest times, despite having a rock caught in the left rear for a period of time.
“The night stages were fun and it was encouraging to set some quite good times,” says Murphy. “The potential for the cars is there, thanks to all those who’ve developed these cars before us like Andrew Hawkeswood. Josh and I are stoked with how the MRF rubber handled all the different surfaces. For Josh to fight through and gain some points means so much for our hard-working crew. There’s still a big job to keep developing them, but we’re all very positive. My car’s off to Fieldays on the Holden stand next week, so one last big thanks to Tony and the guys for cleaning it up!”
There’s a two-month break before the next NZRC round, Rally Coromandel in August, and the RDL Performance crew will utilise the time to sort the CV/driveshaft problem and do all the regular maintenance jobs between rallies. Then Marston says they’ll be into more development with the cars to make them faster. “It’s good to have some time to look everything in more detail.”
Murphy and Marston appreciate the support of Penny Homes, Holden New Zealand, MRF Tyres, Fairview Windows and Doors, Provident Insurance, Stadium Finance, Aqualine, Supashock, RDL Performance, Rubber Developments, Racetech, Makita, Castrol, FXD Workwear, New Balance, Alpinestars, Futura Trailers, Chemz and SignBiz.