Australian Brendan Reeves has taken victory at the latest round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship fuelled by Gull and driven by Dunlop, the Mahindra Goldrush Rally Coromandel. Reeves and co-driver Ben Searcy powered their Mazda 2 AP4 car to victory by 1 minute 15.3 seconds.
Reeves set the pace in the opening stage, heading home Kiwi WRC stars Hayden Paddon and John Kennard by 4.1 seconds. A spin in stage two for Reeves and a change of tyres for Paddon saw the Hyundai i20 AP4+ pilot take the lead, only for Paddon to leave the road on stage four. That left Reeves to take a comfortable victory ahead of Andrew Hawkeswood/Jeff Cress in their Mazda 2 AP4+ car, Ben Hunt/Tony Rawstorn in their Subaru WRX STi, Phil Campbell/Rocky Hudson (Mitsubishi Evo 9) and Gull Rally Challenge winners Adam Bligh/Ric Chalmers (Mitsubishi Evo 8).
A combination of demanding roads and changeable weather conditions saw a high attrition rate, with 23 of the 56 championship registered starters failing to make the finish. Amongst the most significant retirements were Matt and Nicole Summerfield (accident) and Rhys Gardner/Alex Ramsay (Suspension damage), the teams that had entered the championship first and second in points standings.
Class battles saw Dylan Thomson/Amy Hudson take victory in the NZRC two-wheel drive class, who moved into a strong lead after a close battle with the identical Ford Fiesta of Max Tregilgas/Glenn Goldring ended when the latter pair hit a bridge. That left Robbie and Amy Stokes to take second in their Toyota Levin, ahead of Nathan Tough/Samantha Gray in the Honda CRX.
The Open Two-wheel drive class went the way of Anthony Jones/Tanya Gwynne in their Ford Escort, leading home the similar Escort of Wayne Pittams and Noel Moloney. A limping Marcus van Klink/Dave Neill came home in third place.
The Historic Class saw Tony Gosling and Blair Read take victory in their Ford Escort RS1800 ahead of the similar car of Paul Fraser/Dan Reichenbach and Mike and Helen Cameron’s Mitsubishi Lancer.
The Gull Rally Challenge went the way of Bligh, who headed home Matt Jensen/Kieran Anstis and Quentin Palmer/Daniel Bassett, completing a Mitsubishi lockout of the podium in the class. The two-wheel drive challenge was won by David Taylor/Pania Huntley in their Honda Civic ahead of Rob Connell/Chris Davison’s Ford Escort.
The Group A Challenge saw Matt and Karl Adams take victory in their Mitsubishi VR4, also earning the Dunlop Drive of the Rally. They led home Marty Smith/Dom Adams (Subaru Legacy) and Phil Collins/Tracy Spark (Audi Quattro).
A runner up finish sees Hawkeswood take the championship lead, seven points clear of Summerfield with Hunt moving into third place as the series moves to Rally Waitomo on October 14.
2017 Drivers Championship Standings – after round 4 of 6.
1. Hawkeswood – 88 points
2. Summerfield – 81
3. Hunt – 70
4. Gardner – 67
5. David Holder – 58
2017 Manufacturers Championship Standings – after round 4 of 6.
1. Subaru – 91 points
2. Mazda – 86
3. Ford – 73
4. Mitsubishi – 60
5. Suzuki – 53
6. Hyundai – 43
7. Audi – 22
8. Holden – 22
9. Toyota – 16