Here we are again, another installment of the 2014 Rally season for the KSL Motorsport team.
Following the day out at Hawkes Bay with Jase and Dee, I was quite looking forward to getting back in the seat for the Taranaki Tarmac Rally.
During the month away at work, I had the car being looked over from front to rear a few jobs to tidy it up so we could get it down to Keith Stewart and on the Dyno for the first time since I bought earlier this year.
Arriving back into NZ the week prior to the rally I had high hopes that it would be a turn key scenario. Unfortunately when I took the car for a road test we found that there were issues with the gearbox! So with this in mind, we shot the car down to Keith and rescheduled the remainder of the week to ensure we were good to start.
I must thank the boys at Midhurst Service Station (Sponsor) for getting the car back in and changing the gearbox with only a few hours notice.
So Friday afternoon at 1500 we are now confident the car is good to go!
It has to be noted that I had Dad in the car co-driving. With Chris Gracie moving on to co drive for Ric Chalmers, Dad figured he’d hop in and co drive. Had been a long time between rallies for him. His last outing was in my Escort Taranaki 2000. We’d always worked well together, and he was keen so why not I thought. I must admit by the end of the day I don’t know how he stayed in the car!! Must be bloody awful feeling ill all day long!!
The week leading up to the rally had been great weather wise. As late as 1630 on the Friday we still had the car on stands contemplating which tyres to run. Would it be dry or as eventuated wet.
I think wet was an understatement as we left home Saturday morning ready to line up. Seeded 54th I wasn’t complaining as I managed a bit of a sleep in no need to be in New Plymouth too early. Our report time of 0838 was ideal.
So heading from the start to stage 1, the weather didn’t get any better. Try as we might to get some temperature in the tyres we were fighting a losing battle. In the queue for the first control I got soaked setting the pressures, its not often I enjoy the heater running in the car.
Stage 1 went well, we had caught the car in front within 7.5 km. A total surprise. In the shittiest of conditions the car felt good, everything was working. Dad picked up the notes relatively quickly although I had to ask for the delivery to be a little quicker. The Evo is plenty quicker than the escort had ever been.
30 odd Km’s later we finished stage 1, no incidents or issues. The best bit we were 21st OA, 1st in class. Never would I have imagined that.
Into service, the boys gave the car a quick once over, sorted a sump guard that was rattling on the exhaust and sent us out again.
Stage 2 & 3 were great. 15th quickest on 3, best bit was it was blind for the last half as Dad was starting to feel unwell.
As we headed through to Inglewood for service we received a text message from the guys. Updating position and stage times. Things were going well. Certainly no complaints following the ups and downs at Whangarei.
Once again very little to do at service, so over the ranges we went. Stages 4,5 and 8 were not great. Probably more so because the majority was driven blind, but we maintained our position, car was running well and we didn’t have any moments of concern.
Stage 6 was great although we “missed” the 2nd chicane and accrued a 30 sec penalty. Stage 7 was good, a little slower than I could have gone, but by now we were of the mindset nothing stupid.
The last stage was horrible, once again driving without notes. I really did owe Dad for sitting in their all day feeling as bad as he had. We had a spin within sight of the stage finish. From there on in it was cruise to the end.
Ultimately what had started out as seat time, a drive to the finish and get used to my new car turned into a great day.
16th Overall, 1st in Class E was definitely more than I had imagined. Especially when we left wet, wet wet Stratford at 0800 that morning.
Rallying is such a team sport, I couldn’t have got there without my Crew, Chris, Keith, Dan and Andrea. Or my wife (Michal)
Really appreciate the late night Friday to make sure everything was tip top and ready to go. And the day soaked making sure everything was to my liking as the rally progressed.
And lastly I’d still be waiting in the shed if it wasn’t for my sponsors
Konnect Safety Ltd
Ben Thomas PanelBeaters
South Taranaki Panel and Paint
And for this event a big thanks has to go to Midhurst Service Station, the boys did a last minute gearbox change to make sure we were set to go Saturday morning.
So onwards and upwards, looking forward to the daybreaker now. For those of you competing at Tauranga, Coromandel, go hard, have a great day. See ya on the gravel in September.