Rally driver Ari Pettigrew and navigator Jason Farmer have reached up to 3rd in the 2022 NZ Rally Championship (NZRC), following round three at Stadium Finance Rally of South Canterbury. Another great result was achieved with fourth outright by Ari and his team, halfway through the 2022 Brian Green Properties NZRC, this in Ari’s first season in the outright 4WD championship.
The South Canterbury event is known as having the highest speed average for the NZRC season, but that did not worry Ari, Jason or the Manukau Auto Centre owned Barina AP4. Despite his lack of experience in the full class cars, Ari put up a suite of fast times over the 9 special stages. Twice they took 2nd fastest behind Hayden Paddon and took two 3rd places also. After stage 6 and with 3 stages remaining, he was in 4th overall and less than 15 seconds behind third held by Matt Summerfield.
In stage 7 Ari halved the gap to Summerfield. With 22km’s in stage 8 before a short run around Levels racetrack for stage nine – it was stage 8 that needed to make it happen. A full speed attack was made but halfway through the car faltered, 10km’s from the end of stage 8. The power steering failed, and the boys had to slow right down. Rallying requires split second changes of steering and it is simply not possible to go fast when failed steering is taking all your strength to move the wheel. But 4th at the event was still enough to move Ari up to third equal in the championship points.
Ari comments “We are getting more confidence in the Manukau Auto Centre owned Barina AP4 and are stepping up our pace at each event. By the later stages in South Canterbury we were having a close battle with Ben Hunt and Matt Summerfield and were hopeful of taking third from Matt in stage 8. Unfortunately, power steering failure slowed us for the last 10km’s. Luckily, we managed to do some roadside repairs in time for the quick run around Levels racetrack. We do a huge amount of preparation before each rally and the Manukau Auto Centre AP4 has run perfectly all season until then – which is pleasing giving how hard we all treat our cars in the stages”
“We have to be pleased with placing fourth in our third event, in the Manukau Auto Centre AP4 Barina. Hayden Paddon spent some time with me before South Canterbury Rally, giving me some tips to improve my driving along with helping to develop the car– and that certainly helped my speed. A big thanks to my boss Hayden. The Paddon Rally Group also helps me prepare the AP4 car and servicing at events and I can’t thank them enough for all the support.”
Next event is Hawkes Bay Rally on 23rd July. Hayden Paddon is not competing at Hawkes Bay as Hayden is going rallying overseas for five events including WRC Rally of Finland. Paddon’s overseas rallies are in preparation for Rally NZ later this year and to work towards his Rally 2 World Championship attempt in 2023. That leaves an exciting chance for all the rest of NZRC competitors at Hawkes Bay to take a win in the absence of Paddon.
There will be a large group of teams hoping to take the win at Hawkes Bay Rally. Second in the NZRC points is Ben Hunt in his late model Skoda Motorsport R5 car. Hunt must have the shortest odds at Hawkes Bay Rally, but Canterbury’s Robbie Stokes is fast and due for some luck and Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield will also be planning to win that event. Rana Horan will also have his near new Skoda Motorsport R5 and currently equals Ari in 3rd NZRC points so far. Horan will also be looking for another NZRC round win. There will be more than 10 hopeful drivers with a chance of take the win, and that includes Ari Pettigrew and Jason Farmer who are getting quicker at every event.
After Hawkes Bay Rally it will be Repco Rally NZ in late September and there will be tens of thousands of people in the stages watching Ari and Jason rally past, along with the World Rally Drivers, Hayden Paddon and the rest of the NZRC teams.
Ari and Jason give a big thanks to Manukau Auto Centre – Paddon Rallysport – Mitre 10 Trade – Winmax Brake Pads – The Flooring Warehouse – R&R Hiab Services – KeelowCraft Boats – Dunlop Tyres – Penrite Oil NZ – Guyton Reinforcing – Gilt Edge – Glasurit Ultra Paints – Universal Sign Co – Prolook – Turboshop
By Ross Teesdale