At 7am on Saturday the 11th of October Tyson Jemmett set out to take on 180 kilometers of challenging Northland roads in the Tanoa Paihia Hotel Rally of the North. Jemmett’s long standing co driver for the 2014 season Craig Simpson was unable to make it due to other commitments so Jemmett called on the experience of Rob Scott to guide him through the event. Jemmett said “leading up to the event I struggled to find a co-driver but it was a great privilege to have Rob Scott offer to sit next to me for the event. It was awesome to be able to utilise Rob’s many years of experience, co driving internationally”.
Heading into the first stage Jemmett was seeded as the top ranked two wheel drive so the softer road conditions wouldn’t cause the ground to get too cut up before the pair entered the stage. The first stage was extremely fast and the pair finished the stage sitting second in class, just 3 seconds behind Ric Chalmers in the other Honda Civic.
The second stage of the event proved to be the undoing for Jemmett who only traveled one hundred meters into the stage before breaking a front axle CV joint. “The start was on an uphill followed by a hairpin left. Normally I would take a corner like that in second gear but looking for a quick start I left it in first to keep the revs up. CV joints are a known weak point on the car and we’ve broken many before. Unfortunately lots of wheel spin and full steering lock was too much for the joint to bare and it broke” said Jemmett. Jemmett and Scott identified the broken part which would normally put an end to most competitor’s events but Jemmett was determined to make it to the finish and gain some extra championship points. “The first thing I did was call on fellow Honda racer, Mark Nielsen from the Hibiscus Coast Motor Club who I knew was trying to spectate most stages during the rally. As it turned out he wasn’t far away and happened to have a spare axle in the car!” explained Jemmett. “I rolled the car sideways into a ditch to put the car on an angle so the gearbox fluid wouldn’t drain when the axle was removed. I then jacked the car up and removed all the parts before Mark arrived with the spare axle. I was just finishing up when the sweep vehicle arrived and Rob begged the guys to give us a couple more minutes to finish”. The pair hit the road with a running car once again and managed to complete the stage and remain in the rally.
While Jemmett knew he had lost too much time and that he could no longer win the event, his attention turned to special stage four. This stage was the Pyroclassic Fires Power Stage and offered Jemmett the chance to gain extra championship points as well as five hundred dollars in prize money for winning the stage. “I had been looking forward to my class’s power stage all season and was determined to give it my all. It was a challenging stage with a few very fast blind sections but I gave it my all” said Jemmett. Jemmett walked away with a power stage win of over ten seconds against his championship rival Ric Chalmers. Jemmett was also rewarded with the fifteenth fastest time overall and bragging rights as the quickest two wheel drive in a competitive field.
Special stage five presented another good result for Jemmett with a top twenty stage time. Things were looking positive heading into special stage six, the longest for the event at over forty two kilometers. With Jemmett now seeded twenty cars further back due to lost time on special stage two he was encountering trouble with low hanging dust upon catching up to the competitors starting one minute in
front of him. “Unfortunately stage six was our last for the event, we caught up to the car in front of us and the ‘push to pass function’ of the RallySafe GPS tracker wasn’t working so the guys in front didn’t know we were there. We were coming in and out of some very heavy dust clouds and unfortunately I went wide on a tight left hander. The damage was minor but we were unable to continue due to a popped fuse because the headlight loom had shorted on impact” said Jemmett.
While this wasn’t the season ending result Jemmett had hoped for, he remained optimistic. “It’s a shame the final rally of the season didn’t pan out as we had hoped but it was awesome to claim the power stage win and also post some competitive stage times overall. We have learnt a lot this year and have steadily been getting faster and faster, I can’t wait to get out there again in 2015”.
While Jemmett does not have any financial sponsors, he would like to thank the continued support from:
The Service Company, Endless Brakes NZ (Prosport Auto), Repco Greenlane, Waiau Pa Automotive Solutions and allytyres.co.nz.
You can follow Jemmett’s rally progress via updates on the TZR Facebook page.