Round 3 of The Clearwater Painting, Renovating & Decorating Mainland Series was a turn in the right direction for Gillies Motorsport. After a disappointing run in Otago and the last two years at Canterbury, the team were looking to bounce back and took a far more relaxed approach to the weekend, aiming to just enjoy the rally and take the car home in one piece! Saturday’s night stages were an unknown this year as we tried a new LED light bar, wow we are converted!
Stage 1 we caught the car in front after 6-7 Kms, Neil Gee made the sporting decision to stop and let us through really early, probably to his detriment having to follow on in our dust, with a dust free road it was a great stage to start the rally. Stage 2 we had a few additional chicanes to navigate with damaged and stopped cars. Mid point we collected a rock the size of an adults head and it nailed the muffler, but we were both as happy with our relatively trouble free run through stage 2 as we were surprised by the carnage and early attrition.
Back at the service park we found we had managed 2nd in Class for the Mainland Series power stage, only pipped by 4 seconds for the win! We also found the inlet pipe to the muffler had ripped free, a couple of inquiries around fellow competitors and Les Summerfield offered for us to run the car round to his work and weld it up on a hoist, the good bugger could have fudged us off given his kids car was upside down in stage 2 but instead he and Simon also from Autotech reminded us why we love the sport! Repairs made to the Vertex Datsun and off to bed happy with our start to the Rally.
Sunday really was a mixed bag, but great all the same, the roads were fantastic, in particular Stage 10, the stage description had a comment at the end saying if competitors didn’t enjoy it they had picked the wrong sport, wow what a way to finish the rally, it really was as good as the organizers said, stage of the day for us. Stages 3 & 4 were good to us, both getting into an awesome rhythm with the notes, Stage 5 however a nothing spin on the snow and ice that caught so many others out, the Vertex Datsun managed to suffer a fuel blockage that stopped us for 3-4 minutes, we got going but Andy had to repeat the process of clearing the inlet to the fuel pump 3-4 times on touring during the afternoon, but we only lost time on the one stage.
For us Stage 6 was cancelled, stopped in the start control we were regrouped back at the service park to head out to Stage 7 8 & 9. By the end of the day we found ourselves in 36th outright and 4th in class, banking 2nd place class points for the Mainland Series. Canterbury Rally 2015 has been a true stand out for Gillies Motorsport, awesome people, awesome roads and even missing the podium really was a pretty good result in the class, we just need there to be more night stages !!
Gillies Motorsport would like to thank and commend the Autosport Club on an outstanding event, also the amazing way they dealt with the chaos caused with stopping Stage 6 to attend to Les. From the CRO’s to the timing crews and those in the controls at the service park it would have been hard knowing one of your own was injured and the way you coped was truly a credit to you all, just so we could all continue on having a skid. Also we would like to wish Les Summerfield a speedy recovery, you really are one of Rallying’s good buggers.
Andy and Darrin would like to thank their crew, Alan, Dave and Nic and the support from Vertex Racing Lubricants, Lubricants NZ Ltd, Enzed Hose Doctor Craig Boniface, Stadium Finance, Paul Renton Contracting and Strang Automotive.
by Darrin Pilkington