Tauranga’s Phil Campbell is eager to get underway when the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the International Rally of Whangarei, gets underway this Friday.
Campbell had initially planned on spending most of the 2017 season on the side lines as the Campbell Rally Sport team focus on building their new Ford Fiesta AP4 car for the 2018 season. However like many rally drivers, Campbell suffered a severe case of itchy feet watching the opening round, Rally Otago, from home and the late decision was made to enter the second round.
While Campbell was able to make the start line, regular co-driver Venita Fabbro was unable to shift work commitments meaning experienced co-driver Lisa Hudson will step into the co-driver’s seat of The Roofing Store Mitsubishi Evo 9.
The Whangarei event is one that has been both cruel and kind to Campbell in the past. The event was his first in the four-wheel drive Mitsubishi three years ago and immediately he was on the pace, sitting in third place before a gearbox failure. Then in 2015, he missed standing on the podium by just 2.4 seconds after two days of flat out competition. Last year again saw a strong result slip by when he retired from a strong position only two stages from home.
While Campbell did miss the opening round, he has kept his hand in with some strong results in club rally sprints and while he acknowledges that he won’t know exactly where his speed is at until the rally begins on Friday night, Campbell is confident that several issues that contributed to a slow finish to 2016 have been resolved over the off season.
“I just can’t wait to get going again, it was really tough watching all the times coming through sitting on the couch at home, I just had to get back out there,” says Campbell. “We’ve certainly found a few things in the car over the off season that wouldn’t have been helping us, so that helps the confidence. It’s also going to be very interesting working with Lisa, she’s hugely experienced, and I’ve only really had Venita in the car.”
The International Rally of Whangarei kicks off with a ceremonial start on Whangarei’s Te Matua A Pohe Bridge from 6.15pm, followed immediately by two super special stages. The following day sees teams tackle eight special stages totalling 152.5km as far north as Paihia, before Sunday’s action sees a further six special stages and 108km of special stages before the ceremonial finish held at Whangarei’s town Basin from 3pm.
Press Release by BB Media