Yesterday I was asked to go and help the RCK Contractors Rally Team who were having a sponsor day at Maramarua Forest. I was mainly there to take a few photos of their clients having rides in the rally car. I hadn’t planned to write anything about the day, but by the end of it, I felt compelled to do so.
I had been asked to be at the site by 08.30 but figured it was better to be early, and ended up being the first person there. Not long after arriving another car pulled up, which turned out to be a guest who was coming for a ride. He was pretty excited as it had been on his bucket list for a long time. It was pretty cool to see someone so excited to be given the chance to have a ride, which maybe a lot of us take for granted as we’re are so involved in the sport and either have driven or been in cars before.
Having never been to this type of event before, I was a little unsure how it would work, but once everyone had turned up it all started working like clockwork. The gentleman I had been talking to earlier in the morning (I’m pretty sure his name was Micky) was first up. He couldn’t wait to get in the car and get going. Greg Ruka was on hand to help him into the car, and give a quick safety brief. Then they were into it! I didn’t time how long it took for them to complete the loop, but it felt like 6 or 7 minutes later, Clinton pulled back onto the service area. Micky was grinning from ear to ear and was completely hyped up by the experience. It was so cool to see how much enjoyment he got out of having a ride. I’m pretty sure it will be something he will talk about and remember, for quite some time!
The service crew were awesome throughout the day. Every time the car needed attention they were onto it, working quickly and professionally so not to keep anyone waiting too long. Great work guys!
As the day rolled on, I was getting used to seeing people getting into the car with apprehensive looks on their faces and getting out less than 10 minutes later with the biggest smiles and hearing lots of “that was SO cool” or “that was f***ing awesome” and have to admit, I was getting pretty excited to see so many people experience the sport which I love and have nothing but positives to say about it.
Towards the end of the day, Clinton offered to take me out. This was totally unexpected as that’s not why I was there, but hell yeah, I was not going to miss this opportunity, especially as my only rallying experience has ever been in a Mk2 Escort and a DX Corolla (albeit a very fast one!) and had never had the chance to jump in a 4wd, let alone a Group A Championship car! I squeezed myself into some rather un-fetching overalls, stuck a helmet on and jumped in the car. I was pretty excited. Had a quick chat with Clinton on the intercom and we were off.
The first thing that struck was the acceleration. Man it flew up the hill. I had heard Greg telling people the first bend was about a 7 right and could be taken pretty quickly. As we approached the corner it looked more like a 3 right to me and what’s more, it was a blind crest. I was expecting some braking or a gear change but holy smoke, we took it what felt like flat out. The car left the ground as we jumped. The car landed to the left hand side but still on the road, straight into a down section with two more jumps. One of them felt massive from in the car. Clinton was flying (in the true sense of the word!). I glanced across at the speedo as we approached the 3rd jump. The speedo has 180kmh marked on it and the needle was well past it, so I reckon we were around the 200khm mark. That’s insane, but so thrilling.
I was impressed with Clinton’s commitment into corners and ability to brake so late. It felt quite aggressive, yet he made it look so easy and in control. The grip of the 4wd was outstanding, with it’s ability to brake as well as it accelerates.
By now we were well into the forest and going through lots of corners, one after another. WOW – I was loving it! All too soon we reached the cones which indicated the end of the run, and we had to slow up and cruise back to service. I was almost lost for words.
After jumping out of the car, I sent Dee a text message just telling her about my ride. I though I might have had a reply along the lines of “Was it cool?” or “did you have fun?” All I got back was a message that read “YOU CAN’T HAVE ONE!”
The day worked really well, with everyone (including me) going home with awesome memories of the thrilling ride. The RCK Contractors Rally Team were fantastic, with awesome hospitality making everyone feel welcome. Clinton, you have an outstanding, positively minded team and support crew, which I have no doubt helped you this season when the chips were down.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to come along for the day. I wish you and the RCK Contractors Rally Team all the best for next season, and look forward to following your progress of achieving your goal.
Sorry about the sound quality of this video