I must start today with an apology for the delay in getting this article out. It’s been a manic week with processing images from Day Breaker, along with making sure teams’ press releases are up online and not to mention my full time work and family commitments! I’ve also had to fit in some time to sit my test for my R1 licence so I can compete in the Clubman’s Rally in Tauranga in a few weeks.
Anyway, back to Day Breaker. What a great weekend! We managed to
dump send the kids for a visit to Aunty Lisa so we could enjoy the weekend properly without having to worry. We had arranged for our neighbour to feed the cats too so we were set.
We drove down on Friday, stopping on the Desert Road to take an off road excursion and have a play in the snow. Dee was convinced she had to build a snowman (her first one ever!) so she had carried a carrot all the way there to make sure he had a nose. By the time she was finished, it was all carrot and no snow!
Carrying on down toward Palmerston North, we decided to look at a couple of stages on the way down as we’d never been to this event before and thought it would be wise to know where we could stand the next day to get some good shots. We drove the last few kilometres of Stage 1 and then onto Stage 4. By now it was getting late and we needed to find our accommodation for the night, so decided we would wing it the following day, but at least we had a point to aim for first thing.
Up and out early the next day and the sun was below the horizon still, but it was shaping up to be an awesome sunrise. We were about 50 kms from the point we wanted, so we watched the sunrise as we drove. The sky was amazing, but as soon as the sun came out, it was really hard to drive due to severe sunstrike. I did wonder how many of the drivers this would affect, especially the first few onto the stage.
Arriving at the end of stage one, we walked in about 1 km or maybe a little more and found our spot. It was now time to sit and wait. Lucky for use we had an amazing view looking towards Ruapehu to watch the early morning light splash across the countryside. Simply breathtaking! I think Dee was still struggling a little as it was still way too early and way too cold to be up and about!
It wasn’t too long before the Zero cars came through. By this time a few fans had managed to walk in past us which is good to see. The first car to arrive was Richard and Sara Mason. A quick look at the back of the camera confirmed I was happy with the location we were in. As the rest of the field started coming through it was clear that a few notable names were already missing! Not a good start.
As the field kept coming through, it was clear one or more drivers were making a cautious start while others were on it using every inch of the road. Ian Wood was the driver who arrived the most sideways into the corners we were at, with Jason Weld taking a similar approach but using every bit of the road on the corner’s exit. Great stuff to watch. Of course, being an Escort driver myself, it’s always great to see them coming through. I never tire of seeing (and hearing) the likes of Deane Buist and Gary Smith in the stages. Of course, another car which is always great to watch and sounds awesome is Klinky in his Mazda RX7.
After watching the field through, we headed back to the car and decided to head for the service area at Apiti instead of trying to get into another stage. We’re glad we did and we didn’t have too much of a wait before the first cars were arriving back into service.
As we walked around we were passed by Josh Marston in his R2 Fiesta which appeared to have two punctures. We walked back toward Phil Campbell’s service area to chat to Phil, only to find out they had issues with the car not running and were in the process of trying to track down why. It turns out that the cause was a rock which had damaged the fuel pump. In a bizarre set of circumstances a rock had caused Josh’s punctures and had been pulled further out onto the stage where Phil came across it flat out in 5th gear. Now this was no ordinary rock. Just look at the size of it!!
Josh and Phil are fighting hard with each other in the championship and both ended up suffering by the same rock. In an act of great sportsmanship, Josh leant Phil (his nearest competitor) his spare fuel pump to allow him to continue in the rally. It’s really great to hear about such sportsmanship, especially when they are such hard charging rivals on the stage and one of the reasons I enjoy being part of this sport. I have no doubt Phil would have done the same thing. Good on ya Josh.
At this point, we had to get a move on to get into Stage 5 before the cars were off again. Luckily the end of Stage 5 was close by. As we drove up the road a car behind approached us quite quickly and flashed it’s lights, so I slowed up and pulled over to let him pass. As he went past we suddenly realised it was our neighbour. Now, as you recall, we had arranged for him to be looking after the cats at home, so it was a real shock to see him fly by.
We caught up with him and found out that he had left the cats to be fed by his wife, and he’d got up at 04.00 and drove down from Tauranga to watch the rally. He managed to watch 8 of the 9 stages and both services, and then drove back to Tauranga the same day. That’s a 1000 km journey! That’s dedication to the sport!
I was happy with some of the shots I was getting in Stage 5, especially some of the early drivers who were sweeping the road, as it made for some good gravel throwing images. There were a couple of drivers pushing really hard through this corner and using every inch of the road on the exit. Feathers and Geoff Argyle got really wide but created a good shot. Paul De Rose was awesome through here, carrying lots of speed and moving lots of gravel. Paul’s switch to the EVO from the Mirage seems to have been a really good idea and he’s going great so far. We look forward to seeing more of the same at Rally of the North in August.
Our last stage of the day was Stage 8. We decided to drive in and get locked in for this one. We managed to get about 5-6 kms in from the start and set up. We were just past a blind crest which had been cautioned. I was mightily impressed with the commitment that Richard Mason had through here, although I believe he didn’t get to the end of the stage. It was also good to see Alex Kelsey come through with his unmistakable style. It was the first time we’d seen him all day due to some issues with wheel studs earlier in Stage 1.
As we had no kids, we decided to head for prizegiving to catch up with everyone. It turned out to be a really good night. One of Roger Goss’s service crew (I’m sorry I don’t remember your name), decided to teach me how to skull a bottle of beer using a straw (which is probably why I don’t remember your name!) Dee also wants to thank him for getting her back on the Jack Daniels. She hasn’t stopped drinking it since we got home! (yeah – thanks man!!) We had a great time and enjoyed meeting lots of people.
It really was a great end to a great weekend.
Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers for making it such a great event.
See you all at Rally of the North
Jase & Dee