Bothwell Loop Road Rallysprint
Photo credit: Jason Byrne

Bothwell Loop Road Rallysprint

Sorry to cover off two events in one post, but I didn’t get a chance to put a few words together from the last round at Piakonui Road.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the first round of the Northern Rallysprint Series.  Its unfortunate that I cant always make it to some rounds, but always make the effort when I can.  The series has been around for a long time, and ABC Pipefitter should be credited for their longstanding support of it.  Details on the series can be found on their website    I always enjoy these events as there’s some great talent and cars to watch.  The series has been around for a long time, and ABC Pipefitter should be credited for their longstanding support of it.

Piakonui Road Rallysprint

Round 2.  I did make Piakonui Road Rallysprint the week before, but unfortunately didn’t have any time to put some words together about it.  Its a great bit of road, and an event that is always well supported. One thing for sure, that round was as dusty as hell.  Photos from the event can be found here.  The event was won by Graham Featherstone, with Carl Douglas having a great day in his new Subaru.  Other drivers that caught my attention during the event were Russell Jenkins and Don Needham.  Both driving Starlets and going extremely well.  I always enjoy and photographing drivers who like to back their cars into corners.  it may not always be the fastest but its definitely great to watch and photograph!

Bothwell Loop Road Rallysprint

Round 3.  I was told this road hadn’t been used since the 1990’s so was keen to go and have a look.  Following the dust of the week before, we’d had a lot of rain during the week so was hoping for no dust.  I left early Sunday morning in torrential rain, so figured there wouldn’t be any dust, but was planning to get very wet and working out ways to keep the kit dry as I made the drive to the event.  I arrived early only to find the sun had risen and no signs of rain at the event.  I checked in with COC and went and drove the loop.  WOW.  What a great bit of road!  Unfortunately there weren’t many places to safely park up and shoot from.

Bothwell Loop Road 2016 copyright Jason Byrne-1About halfway in I found an intersection which allowed a safe place to leave the car, and a great view out to the coast.  With the sun coming up behind me the view was spectacular.  I was hoping for some scenic shots behind the cars.  I perched up on a bank and waited.  Graham Featherstone was the first car through.  I got the shot I had planned, but the wind had changed the weather so the view wasn’t so good anymore, and the dust the Feathers caused reminded me of the week before!  Unfortunately the strong wind that was blowing caused all the dust to collect where I was standing rather than blow it away,  I had to move.  Unfortunately the images from this spot were rather dull but nothing I could do now the event was live.

The weather changed from a nice sunny day to heavy rain which luckily didn’t last for too long.  I think most drivers would have had one run in the rain.

At this point there was a break in procedings as there was some confusion as to what had happened to Steve Goodare in his Datsun Sunny.  The decision was made to stop the event and send in the sweeper to check for safety. luckily the crew were fine but the car had stopped with a suspected gearbox failure.  This was a real shame as Steve is always good to watch.  This did however allow me to stop the sweeper on his way out of the stage and move in front of him to a better location.

I stopped at the next intersection which was a hard right hander after a reasonably fast straight.  This was quite a good section to watch from as I could move around and try different angle of the same corner, and I could see the cars coming from quite a long way out.

At this point in the day the competition was starting to heat up.  Drivers had had a couple of runs through the road and were getting used to it.  You could definitely see those who were now trying hard.  It looked like Shannon Chambers was flying in his VW Polo, along with Dave Strong and Grant Liston in their Hondas.  Its so hard to know how well a drivers going without seeing the times, as often the ones who look spectacular don’t always make the run off finals.

Bothwell Loop Road © Jason ByrneMost drivers coming into this intersection were able to brake hard and late due to the grip and turn in without too much trouble and drive straight out.  Several Car were on three wheels as they turned in.  Young Dylan Thomson was very committed in his Ford Fiesta, setting it up before the corner to straight line it out.  Dylan is teaming up with Amy Hudson this year for the NZRC which should be a great combination and a team to watch!

I had never seen Rodney Atchinson’s VW Beetle in action before, only photos of it.  What a cool sounding car.  He was going pretty good in it too, great to see.  Brendan Wilson was also going pretty good in his Toyota Corolla, giving it plenty every time I saw him.

Unfortunately for Aaron McKenzie, his event came to an end right in front of me as turned in a little to early for the right hander and ran up the bank causing him to roll onto his roof.  Luckily the crew were OK.    Hopefully its only light panel damage as it was a slow roll over.  I really feel for this team as it was a mint looking Mk1 Escort.

The next couple of cars through had to be flagged down to slow up as from the approach to the corner you couldn’t see there was a car on its roof in the road.  The marshal made the right call to get the event stopped so the car could be cleared.

Bothwell Loop Road © Jason ByrneMark Bradley went extremely well in his Datsun 1200 SSS.  Its got a really strong, great sounding engine in it.  Mark certainly drove hard and put in a very respectable time in the final.

Getting down to the run offs it was no surprise to see Graham Featherstone in the final.  He has a habit of flying under the radar and poping up in the finals.  His driving style does not look spectacular but definitely delivers the fast times and results.  He won the event by 3 seconds over Shannon Chambers, who in the last run looked like he out braked himself in to the corner and went wide.  With only 3 seconds between them, this small error could have been the difference between 1st and 2nd, but shows how hard he was trying.

Thanks to Pukekohoe Car Club and all the volunteers that put this event together.  Full results can be found on the Pukekohe Car Club website.

I’d also like to acknowledge the effort that Steve Russell (and Tracy) put into organising the Northern Rallysprint Series, along with the considerable time put into working out the points, and writing a magazine after each event, and editing video highlights for the end of season prize giving.  They do a great job!

Full gallery from the event can be seen here



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