Andy Gillies and co-driver Nathan Pilcher will return to the ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei this weekend determined to put the disappointment of last year’s event behind them and take a positive step in this year’s New Zealand Rally Championship.
Last season the duo managed to complete the event despite rolling their car on the first day of the rally, severely hampering their efforts. This time around, with their newly rebuilt Toyota Levin, they are aiming for a better performance and result despite their relative lack of experience on the challenging stages of the Whangarei roads.
“Last year we completed Day 1 even after rolling on Stage 7 but really we have very limited experience unfortunately,” explained co-driver Pilcher. “We are focused on getting comfortable with the Commercial Hire NZ Toyota Levin and improving our performances that way.
“We have both had very little seat time and seat time is the only way to improve it. For this weekend we’re looking to make it out of the rally in one piece and on all fours and of course if we can finish on the podium for this rally that would hopefully improve our standings in the NZRC Championship. It’s never easy but we are taking it step by step.”
The duo performed well in the first round of the championship in Otago earlier this month, finishing third and getting on the podium for the Category 5B class. In the time between rallies, they have concentrated on improving the working environment in the car as they continue on what is a steep learning curve.
“We have made a couple of ergonomic improvements to the car but essentially the car ran really well in Otago and we don’t want to interfere in a major way with either the set up or the mechanical side. So we have not attempted to fix something that isn’t broken,” added Pilcher. “Andy as usual has done a great job in prepping the car for the event and that along with the working environment tweaks we have made will be the best way to continue our consistent run.”
The ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei begins this Friday and concludes on Sunday. The event represents the second round of both the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship and is based in Whangarei with stages to the north and south of the city.
Gillies and Pilcher’s Commercial Hire NZ Toyota Levin is supported by ENZED, Total Lubricants, Wurth NZ, Wet&Forget, MG Minerals, Superfinishing NZ, Arrowtown Bakery, Base Contracting, Brian Scott Motors and Prestige Commercial Vehicles. After round two of the championship at Whangarei this weekend, the team heads south for the Canterbury Rally in June, then the South Canterbury Rally later that month before heading north again for the Rally Coromandel in August. The season then has a free September before concluding with Rally Waitomo in October.