Round four of the Clearwater Painting, Renovating & Decorating, Mainland Series Catlins Coast Rally yet again left Gillies Motorsport team with grins a mile wide. Competing in our third Catlin’s Coast Rally we had a pretty good idea what the event could throw at competitors and sure enough the weather conspired to freeze those standing idle to the spot!
We started with a cautious approach,very heavy falling snow at the start of Stage 2 made vision really tricky, a half spin in SS2 and we found it unbelievably slippy, we only managed 3rd in Class for the MRS powerstage. Having a quiet coffee back at service we noticed the rear tires were well stuffed!
New rubber fitted Andy stepped up the pace in SS3 Cannibal Bay having done it a few times he was comfortable carrying more corner speed, taking the MRS B Class stage win, the day progressed much better loving Stage 4 which was mostly new to us, screaming with laughter when neither of us could call a crest and lifting, the general dribble between us in the car was pretty funny, but hey just running our own rally and having a ball.
Stage 7 with snow actually laying on the road, things got a bit more real, we had a massive moment, both convinced we were rolling over, the rear stepped out of the wheel tracks over a small rut and onto the snow, turning us abruptly right and into a steep bank, climbing up and along we did a wall of death up said right hand bank, with our left hand wheels in the right hand water table, snow and road whizzing past my side window! As I thought we were going over the car came off the bank and back onto the road, a cautious brake check and letting the wheel go it seemed to track ok and nothing was too bent. 1/2 a km further on we saw Nigel Tyson and Julie Parry well off the road gifting us the B Class MRS lead.
Getting to the end and touring to SS8 Andy pulled the right front guard off the tyre as it was rubbing a little before we went into the last proper stage, pushing it hard in places we really loved the last stage and both came out of the Super Special Stage 9 in hysterics as the mud and standing water had us as passengers at times ! Wow what a ride, the massive hours put in by Andy since Canterbury to trace and sort our niggling fuel issue paid off and we both really did have a fantastic day.
We would just like to publicly thank the ESCC and the organizing committee for yet again running an amazing event, quickly becoming iconic in NZ rallying. All the little details covered so well, from the actual route, the roads were awesome and all the volunteers standing out in the changeable weather all day so we could all have a skid.
Gillies Motorsport would like to thank their crew, Rion, Stef and Rach 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