Otago 2016 Rally Report: Jack Williamson / Brenda Williamson Car 48 (Suzuki Swift)
After having a great run in the all-comers category last year, the team made the decision to enter the NZ Rally Championship for the 2016 season. This meant stepping it up with our service crew and we definitely achieved that with Neal and Steve who were highly organised and gave up considerable time to make their way down to Dunedin with the rig. It was a big job travelling from Raglan and we had totally under-estimated the time it would take to travel from Picton to Dunedin. No pressure! With the two drivers flying into Dunedin, we know who were the lucky ones.
We really enjoyed the recce days and the stunning views made it pretty difficult to focus on the job in hand at times!
Day 1 stage 1 didn’t start well with excessive dust. The idea that this could continue throughout the day was a bit stressful. We took the stage easy and were very pleased that the dust subsided as the day progressed. We had great fun battling Chris and Murray Lancaster in car 51. In fact the two Swifts ended up with nine seconds between them for Leg 1.
The car was going great and we were just starting to get the crests sorted! We only had one ‘operator error’ moment which was right at the end of stage 3 where we slid onto the last culvert bridge sideways and came to a stop. Sitting sideways, stalled engine with very little room to manoeuvre – we were lucky to get ourselves off and finish the stage. Something to be said for racing a short wheel based car.
We got stuck into Day 2 with real enthusiasm. Our times went well on stages 9 and 10 and we couldn’t wait to get back into the stages after first service – we were on a roll and were picking up the pace with our notes.
We started stage 11 but unfortunately around 9 kms into the stage, our motor BLEW. Big disappointment. Our service crew were fantastic and after the sweeper car came through, they quickly made their way through the stage to tow us out.
With Whangarei only three weeks away, there was no time to waste. We managed to track down a new motor on Sunday afternoon and it will be going in this week.
The dinner and prize giving were brilliant and it is always great to chat to the other teams. There is so much to learn and advice is always appreciated.
What a rally experience – a big thanks to Rally NZ, Norman Oakley and all the volunteers. We can’t wait for next year’s rally.
Thanks also to our sponsors: Handy Rentals.co.nz, Automotive Technicians and WDE.