Christchurch rally driver Josh Marston and co-driver Andrew Graves, from Gore, secured a solid sixth place finish in the two-day International Rally of Whangarei which ran 5 and 6 May.
Driving their Penny Homes Holden Rally Team Barina AP4+ car, the pair were again encouraged by the car’s pace and reliability, thanks to ongoing development by RDL Performance.
“The team continues to work hard on the car’s development and performance so it’s fantastic for us all to finish the second two-day rally in a row,” says Marston, who now holds fifth on the drivers’ championship leader-board of the 2018 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. “The team has done a great job to produce a strong car and get us to the end, and Andrew always does a great job alongside me. This result, after finishing fourth in Otago three weeks ago, is encouraging.”
Marston was seldom out of the top ten stage times during the 18 competitive stages on Northland’s much-loved cambered, flowing gravel roads. His close battle for sixth/seventh place with fellow NZRC competitor Graham Featherstone added a bit of extra rivalry which Marston describes as fun.
“There was quite a lot of tyre wear on Saturday on the dry, dusty roads when we used the medium MRF tyres. We went to softs today and they held up really well in the softer, wetter conditions.”
Marston says the focus for future events will be more on his own driving performance.
“I didn’t feel like I drove that well on Saturday, but we had really good split times and the odd really good stage time. Then I felt I drove quite well today, but the times weren’t quite there,” says the 33-year-old former winner of the national two-wheel-drive championship.
“The more time I spend in the car, the more I enjoy it, and we’ve shown really good pace at times. It’s going to take time behind the wheel to get more consistency in my driving, so that’s what we’ll work on building this year – driver consistency for those faster stage times.”
The International Rally of Whangarei was the second of six rallies in the 2018 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. Next up is the one-day Rally Canterbury, on 3 June, held on roads north of Christchurch, the home event for the Christchurch-based team. Both Marston and Holden team-mate Greg Murphy will contest the Canterbury rally – Murphy having missed the Whangarei event due to his commitments with the Supercars Championship in Australia.
The Penny Homes Holden Rally Team appreciates the support of Penny Homes, Holden New Zealand, MRF Tyres, RDL Performance, Fairview Windows and Doors, Provident Insurance, Aqualine, Rubber Developments, Racetech, Makita, Castrol, FXD Workwear, New Balance, Alpinestars, Futura Trailers, Chemz and SignBiz.
2018 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship
NZRC round 1: Otago, 14-15 April
NZRC round 2: Whangarei, 4-5 May
NZRC round 3: Canterbury, 3 June
NZRC round 4: South Canterbury, 23 June
NZRC round 5: Coromandel, 18 August
NZRC round 6: Rally New Zealand, 12-14 October
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications