Getting the rally team from Raglan down to Dunedin was always going to be a logistical exercise however the trip turned into a bit of a marathon for the service crew. They not only had to drive through the storm to Wellington, encountering two road closures on route but things took a turn for the worse when the ‘trusty transit’ developed a major mechanical issue two hours out of Wellington. While it limped its way to Wellington Jack was frantically ringing around to see how the job could be salvaged.
Our rally friends were incredibly generous in helping us out: Chris Lancaster arranged for his trustier Hiace “Gareth” to be dropped off at Picton and this was taken down to Dunedin as our service vehicle. Bryn Smith organised a depo at Blenheim to drop off the transit and Jason and Dee from A Little Bit Sideways kindly agreed to tow the rally car down to Dunedin from Blenheim, also taking Mary from our service crew with them. A big THANKS to these people for enabling us to get the car to Otago and to all the others who offered assistance. Wow such generosity.
The Suzuki Swift underwent some significant modifications over the summer with new AP race brakes and Jack also decided to add a new engine and turbocharger. This was its first outing and we were pleased with the car’s performance. Every rally has a story: we had some tyre issues which stopped us in special stage 3.
During stage 4, unbeknown to us, we broke a brake line and came into the second to last corner with no brakes. We ploughed through the tape at the junction narrowly avoiding a row of cars. Luckily we managed to turn the car 180 and ‘parked’ it up against a bank … no panel damage… restarted it and limped to the end of stage. While we were doing our semi out of control tricks at the junction it was great to see everyone standing in well thought out places as its times like these things can go wrong. Luckily we carry spare brake lines on board and changed this during touring. Unfortunately we incurred a 30 second late penalty at the start of stage 5.
Other moments of the rally – we encountered a big black bull in the middle of a stage and during our exciting run through Kuri Bush the throttle body split. Basically a string of minor issues meant we didn’t get a clean stage all weekend but having said that we are happy with where we are at. We were very pleased to have finished the first rally of the season and look forward to Whangarei in two and half weeks.
Our service crew of four were incredible over the two days. A big job – getting out to refuelling points and ensuring all requirements were met at services. It must have been quite difficult to focus on the job in hand on Sunday as the service park was based at Lake Waihola, a stunning location. Dunedin was a brilliant base for the rally and Norman Oakley and his team were the best.
As the team made their way back up the South Island, Stu McLean kindly assisted with fixing the transit at Blenheim. After replacing a couple of injectors, the team continued the long trip home crossing Tuesday morning.
Thanks to our sponsors for their support – Handy Rentals, WDE and Paddon Rally Foundation.
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