As there were going to be several of our local drivers (Motorsport BOP) entering I thought it would be cool to go along and show our support. As I’d never been North of Auckland, I suggested to Dee as it was school holidays to take the family up North and do some sight seeing for a few days before the rally.
So with the car packed full of our gear we headed North. I wont digress too much into our personal holiday, but a highlight for me was driving the length of 90 mile beach, and Sand Dune Surfing in the Te Paki Dunes – if you haven’t done it, make the effort – it’s well worth it. The weather had been really kind to us too which always helps. Unfortunately it wasn’t to last!!
Sunday morning rolled around – Race Day. I opened the curtains in the motel to find it looking very dark, and it wasn’t because it was dawn either! The sky looked very menacing, but we’d driven a long way to see the rally so we weren’t gonna let the rain put us off….well I wasn’t, and the rest of the family got dragged out in it! We had to set out early to get ourselves a spot in Stage 1. The first car was due to leave Paihia at 07.00, and would arrive at Stage 1 start at 07.38. We had to make sure we were on site a good 20 mins before the first car.
Dee came up trumps with her navigating, and found us some back roads which dropped us in on the stage at a cross roads. We asked the marshal there if there were any good spots nearby but were told we were probably at the best one, and given the time we had we wouldn’t be able to walk to a better one. I never did get the marshals name but she was extremely helpful and cheery, especially given the fact she was on her own and it was howling a gale and completely pissing down with rain. We were wet through long before the first car arrived.
Stewart Taylor was the first car through. He carried good speed and looked like he was on a mission. I checked the camera’s LCD back to see the photos. It was so dark I was having trouble getting good photos, and had to increase my cameras ISO higher than I would have liked. Unfortunately the camera I own is more suited to landscape photography and doesn’t cope with high ISO very well. It starts to make the photos look grainy and the colours washed out.
The good news was both the camera and the lens were pro quality so they should(SHOULD) be weather proofed.
As we were stood on a relatively fast section the cars weren’t sliding too much, but I have to say the one driver that immediately stood out for me was Kayne Barry in his BMW 550is, and I was impressed with the way in which he threw his car into and then power slid through the corners In fact I’m pretty sure he was spinning his wheels up all the way down the straights too. Without a doubt Kayne, you take our Sideways Driver of the Day!
After stage 1 was complete, the rain still wouldn’t ease up, but we were determined to keep going. We headed back to Kawakawa to have a comfort break before heading to stage 4. As we were about to leave the township an ABC Pipefitters Ute pulled up in front. I was pretty sure that it was Steve Russell who runs a couple of other club sport/rally websites.(www.clubsportphotos.co.nz/ & www.nrss.co.nz). We had been in touch via email / Facebook, but never met, so I jumped out to introduce myself. After a brief chat, Steve suggested we would be better off skipping stage 4 and heading for the road between Stages 5 & 8 before it was closed off for the event. We took his advice and headed North to Kerikeri to buy some lunch to take with us, as once the road was closed we would be stuck in there.
We waited a good 2 hrs at stage 5 for the 0 Car to come through and let us know it was all about to start again. Dylan (on movie camera) and I took up positions not too far from the spectator area and got ready.
As we were waiting for the cars to arrive, we saw Ian Wood and Heather Wise (Car 35) walking past to get a viewing spot. This wasn’t good – they were one of the local teams we had come to support. Dee and I wondered what had happened for them not to be in their car. The TV cameraman who was stood just in front of us, must have overheard us and told us he had filmed them in a previous stage going past him on fire! Turns out Ian had blown a turbo.
The cameraman was furiously rushing to fix his camera. The rain in the earlier stages had taken its toll, and his camera was zooming on its own. Before long the cars arrived, I’m guessing the cameraman fixed his problem as he got to work. We had a good spot it looked like we would get some good shots etc. After the first car or two came through the sun started to come through. At first this was a welcome sight and hoped it would dry us out. What I hadn’t expected was for my lens to start condensating as it warmed up. By cars 4 or 5 my lens was completely fogged up. Bugger! Dee very kindly offered to run back to the car and grab me another lens, but I really need the 200mm lens where I was stood and I only had a 70mm available. 99% of the images shot Stage 5 Gallery were on a 70mm and heavily cropped in.
Our spot turned out to be a good one with many cars using a little too much of the road and clipping a small bank. As time went on there was quite a crowd watching by now. Dee was helping me out by holding the lens in direct sun to clear the condensation, but it wasn’t having it. This corner provided us with some good opportunities for some decent photos(assuming the cropping would look OK) and good movie footage.
After the end of the stage, there was a 2.5hr wait until the cars would be back through on Stage 8. We decided to move our car and go and find a good vantage point as we’d been told in previous years the cars would jump at the spectator point. On our way there we bumped into Ian Wood’s team and were invited to join them for a coffee etc in Kaikohe to kill some of the time before the cars would be due. Kaikohe was like a ghost town – everything was closed, but eventually a bakery come cafe was found open.
Refreshed we headed back to stage 8. It was hard to see how the cars would get air at the spectator point, but I was determined to be there to find out. My lens had now had time to clear, so I was all good to shoot again. Whilst scouting out the best place to stand, I heard one of the local guys saying that the road had been re-sealed, and the jump levelled out a bit. With this in mind I cruised down the road to the corner leading onto the section where the jump used to be.
The first car through did get a little bit of air, but nothing too much, so I was happy to stay where I was and shoot the cars coming around the corner and over a small crest.
There were some very enthusiastic supporters here, and one group were clearly there to cheer on Paul De Rose.
It was good to see David Hoffman come past in his Honda Civic as this meant we had one local driver still in the event. He went on to finish 22nd overall. Well done David – Good result!
Full results can be seen here
Well done to all the marshalls, time keepers and organisers of the event. You did a great job, especially in such poor conditions.
Hope you enjoy the photos and video we did manage to get despite some bloody awful weather!