Paul and I packed up and got ready for a really wet day out. The weather had been awful leading up to the start of the event, and was pouring with rain as we left early Saturday morning from Tauranga. As we headed toward the Maramarua Forest, the weather improved as we got into Waihi, although the radio news was reporting we had left some severe flooding behind in Tauranga.
We had to drop in to the service area on arrival to the forest as we had arranged to deliver some stickers for Carl Davies to put on his car (thanks for supporting us Carl!) We then had a walk around the service area enjoying the early morning sun which was now coming out. I managed to catch up with several supporters of the site which was great to finally meet in person rather than via Facebook and the like! I know you were all busy getting ready for the day ahead, so thanks heaps for taking two minutes out of your day to speak to me.
After looking at the stage maps and times for the day we had to work out which way to go. We decided to try the start of Stage 1, then head off into Stage 4 (which would also be Stages 7 & 9) giving us the most amount we could fit in.
Stage 1 didn’t go to plan for us, as the trees made it much darker than anticipated, so a lot of the photos from this stage are not very good. It was really good to watch the field start out for the day, and to see the work and organization by the timing crews. A couple of drivers stood out right away. Sloan Cox came through the first corner using every inch of the road. He has a real aggressive style which is always great to watch, which paid off with a stage win. Alex Kelsey was another fast driver at the start, but what impressed me was the sound of his car. It’s LOUD! – absolutely awesome to hear inside the forest. It was a shame we didn’t see Alex again during the day as he had a mechanical failure which put him out for the rest of the day.
As we pulled up at the start of Stage 4 (Ridge Road) a strange co-incidence happened where Rally and Superbikes crossed paths again! We were approached by a gentleman who asked if he was in the right place to spectate from. We got chatting and we all walked into the stage together. It turns out the gentleman in question was Moggy – team owner of M1 Motorsport. I took many shots of his rider Sloan Frost a few weeks ago, featured in an early post on this site. Turns out he is a good friend (and sponsor) of Lee Robson (EVO4) and had come along to support him.
Other cars that looked quick during the day were Phil Campbell’s R2 Fiesta and Grant Liston’s Honda Integra. Some clean, tidy driving led to good solid finishes for Ben Thomasen (4th overall) and Wayne Pittams ( 7th overall), in the XT Class.
Mike Goldsbury was awarded the Brian Green Properties “Driver of the Rally” award. Mike’s been a supporter of this site from day 1, so I was really pleased to hear he won this. Good on ya Mike!
As the day drew to a close, it felt like the field had been reduced in size with a few cars missing which I assume were from retirements. The stages we saw certainly looked like they could be harsh on the cars.
Congratulations to Dylan Turner, putting in some great stage times and becoming overall winner of Round 1 of the Rally Xtreme Series.
As the last cars went past me in Stage 9, the thunder was rolling in, and some large rain drops started to appear. By the time we had walked out of the stage and got back in to the car, the heavens opened. We were very relieved the weather had waited until now. It would have been a very long wet day otherwise.
Thank you to all the organisers and volunteers, who without, these events wouldn’t happen. You are very much appreciated.
So the last thing to do is name my “Sideways” driver of the day. This will be a tough call this time, as several drivers were fast, sideways and awesome to watch, but Mark Parsons in his TR7 gets it this time.
Below is some of the photos we took, and some video we found on YouTube. We will try to post our videos over next few days
Thanks for reading
On board with Phil Campbell – Final Stage
On board with Lyndsay Homes – Stage 5
On board with Lyndsay Homes – Stage 4 (jump)
On board with Marty Smith (jump)