Rally Whangarei could not have started any better for Cox Motorsport, with Sloan Cox and co-driver Sarah Coatsworth taking a win on the opening Super Special Stage on Friday night. From the get go, the pairing felt comfortable in the Taslo Engineering Mitsubishi Evo X and car speed came naturally for them.
From the start of Saturday’s stages Cox knew that he had to post top stage times and with the surprise of a two minute gap at the startline of the day’s first stage, due to another competitor not starting, Cox made the most of the opportunity of less dusty conditions to set top stage times and pull away from other competitors.
Stage three saw Cox set the 2nd fastest time to World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon and with Paddon striking problems in stage four, Cox was in the perfect position to take advantage of the situation. Cox saw himself leading the rally outright after stage four with an adequate lead and the plan was not to over push on the afternoon stages and finish the day smoothly.
Cox continued to set top times in the afternoon stages to hold onto the rally lead. The team went into the final stage of the day with a comfortable 23 second lead. However this all quickly went downhill when the gear selector broke leaving the car in first gear. The pairing only just managed to crawl out of the stage and were able to make temporary repairs to get back to service. Unfortunately over 2 minutes 30 seconds had been lost and with it Cox’s rally lead, leaving the pairing in 7th overall for the day.
“Obviously the whole Cox Motorsport team are disappointed with Saturday’s result. After a great morning of clean driving it looked like a day win was in the bag, but unfortunately with the mechanical issue it just was not to be” expressed Cox.
After a great effort by the service crew, the car was repaired and the duo made it back out to Sundays stages. About 12km into Sunday’s opening stage Cox tucked too tight into a tarmac corner, resulting in the car leaving the ground at the wrong time on the exit of the corner. With the car aimed straight at the inside bank of the next corner, all Cox could do was hold on and hope for the best. Thankfully the car stayed on its wheels and on the road, but unfortunately the big hit pulled the wheel out and broke the lower arm and tie rod end, resulting in the end of the event for Cox and Coatsworth.
There are still plenty of positives to take away from the weekend, with Cox showing great speed and the car running well despite a small weld in a manufactured part failing. The whole Cox Motorsport team are looking forward to this continued speed at Round three of the New Zealand Rally Championship, Rally Canterbury which is held on 5th June.
Press Release by Cox Motorsport