A promising start on day one of the Rally of Otago ended in disappointment for Australian pair Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino when they were forced to retire whilst leading the New Zealand Rally Championship component of the event.
Reeves and Gelsomino, driving the Lock and Load Transport Stokes Motorsport Ford Fiesta AP4, started the day full of confidence and blasted out of the blocks to set equal fastest stage time with Dylan Turner on the day’s opening test .
On the day’s second stage, the 34.29 kilometre Berwick 1, Reeves beat Turner by more than 17 seconds, despite driving cautiously to protect a broken exhaust.
Crews then headed to the first service of the day where the Stokes Motorsport team replaced a steering arm and fitted new tyres to the car.
Reeves was again quickest on SS3, was second fastest on SS4 Kuri Bush, and then won SS5 to take a 33-second lead into the next service break.
Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino were showing plenty of pace before broken alternator mounts forced their retirement from Day 1 of Rally of Otago. Photo: Wishart Media
Unfortunately the team’s day came to an abrupt end on SS6 when the alternator mounts broke and Reeves was forced to limp to the end of the stage and retire from the event.
“It’s very disappointing to end the day this way,” Reeves said. “We were really enjoying the event and the car felt great.
“The roads were definitely a big challenge. Each road is quite different to the others and the Kuri Bush stage is super fast with lots of big crests.
“After rain all week, today was dry and we were getting good grip and I was getting into a really good rhythm.
“We will work on the car tonight and hope to be able to re-join the rally tomorrow. Keep an eye on our social media pages as we’ll let everyone know whether we are re-starting on Sunday as soon as we can.”
Day two of Rally of Otago features seven stages totalling around 140 kilometres of competition. The event is based out of Dunedin on New Zealand’s south island and is round 1 of the 2019 New