Rally Gisborne – by Mitch James

This article was sent by Mitch James on his experience competing in his first National Event.

The Build up

Well it’s been a big few weeks of preparation heading into Rally Gisborne 2012. The issue of getting the car certified for the rally proved to be a bigger job than expected and we ended up having to take the car to Hamilton a week out from the rally to get it sorted! With neither the car, or myself having competed in a rally before, there were a lot of jobs to get everything fit for a rally. For myself a rally Licence was required. Thanks to Linda Loughlin for her assistance in helping me through the test!

A co driver was required and I was lucky to have Ben who I managed to persuade to sit beside me. Dad spent many weekends on the car. His jobs were the technical fabricating little brackets and bits and pieces. Mike was in charge of finishing off the car for the rally including tank guards sparking up the heater, foot rest the list goes on. We were lucky enough to have Gilmours come on board and help us with fuel for the weekend.

Finally after a sleepless nervous week it was time to pack up and head to Gisborne on Friday morning. With the boys, Ben, Mike and myself towing the car and Dad and Uncle John carrying the rest of the gear down in the arvo the team was set.

After a long haul down to Gisborne we arrived at 4pm just in time to get to documentation and drivers briefing which Ben and I both attended as it was my first rally and Bens first time in the co driver’s seat.

Saturday couldn’t come around fast enough for me. So when both Ben and I got up in the morning neither of us had got much sleep, I think we were both as nervous and excited as each other.

Rally Time

With our touring sets and sunglasses on we were set heading to the first stage until we got 1km from the start ramp and our Terratrip stopped working. We ended up having to live without it for the rest of the rally. The first two stages were a big relief for us to get through, and the car was going well. With Ben and I getting more comfortable in the car we were having a ball. Ben keeping me neat and tidy and finding all our supporters on the sides of the stages he was doing a superb job.

Coming into Service

It was back to the first service of the day. I was having a few issues with the car handling and with the roads being tight and twisty it wanted to push and under steer a lot. Not giving me a lot of confidence in tossing the car sideways into corners. But the team’s motive was to finish the rally and gain the experience of driving the roads and clock up some decent seat time so there was no point in pushing myself to the point of making a mistake.

It was then off to stage 3 and 4, with stage 4 the big 38km stage. Being in the car for 30 minutes was a long time. Half way through the stage Ben said to me “another 20kms to go boy” and I thought holey! It was hard work! After that the rest of the days stages were repeated leaving out the 38km Wharekopae stage.

We were lucky enough to finish the day and gain a lot of seat time in the car.

Thanks to the Campbell’s and Wise’s for loaning us fuel as the BP servo had run out of BP98 which left the team pulling their hair out as to what to do! A big thanks to Dad and Uncle John, mum for all her food preparation, Mike at force Auto for maintaining the car and especially Ben Thomasen for sitting beside me.

Check out “a little bit sideways” to see photos of us thanks to Jason Byrne.



Thanks heaps for sending this in Mitch.  We had a great time following the rally around and supporting everyone.

Hopefully Mitch will send us some of his in car footage from the event so we can share it here.

We would love to hear from any other drivers/co-drivers and spectators who entered or were at Rally Gisborne with your experiences / photos and video – Just get in touch via email.

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  1. Well done Mitch and Ben!!!!! The kids and I will be there with our banners and Pom poms next time!!!!!!! Dee:-)

  2. Hello, I’m Bryn’s friend, he told me ’bout Mitch James and thought I’d check him out. He’s really cool and also his car too. Thanks guys, you rock!

  3. Also do you know what year his current car is, I’m trying to find it for a site that me and Bryn made at this address: https://sites.google.com/a/cmsdigital.school.nz/repco-rally/home You can go and check it out if you want.

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