Wade Road Rally Sprint

I’d heard a lot of people talking about this event since it was announced earlier in the year, so thought I’d better go along and see for myself what people were talking about.  Something had to be pretty good to get 51 entries, and we soon found out why!

We decided to make a weekend of it and set off Saturday morning, stopping off for a very cool shed visit which, all being well, will be featured at a later date.  The weather played ball for the journey up the Coromandel, although it was threatening to turn rough most of the time.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley

After checking into our Motel we went to have a look around the town and visit a few drivers.  It was pretty cool to catch up with Ian Wood and Darrel Manson and their families – made for a most enjoyable afternoon.  Then off to Smittys Sports Bar as Steve Russell (http://www.nrss.co.nz) had announced there would be a small social gathering of competitors etc.  Sounded good to us.  It was awesome to catch up with so many people, and start putting faces to names.  I had a great evening chatting to Jonesy and Noel and Mike Wheatley.  Dee took it upon herself to revisit the Holden – Ford debate at a table of Ford Escort drivers.  Even though outnumbered, she wasn’t going to give in. (Sorry about that Mike Wheatley!)

The following day was a pretty early start.  I had been told that if I wanted to drive into the road I would need to be onsite before 08.00.  All night it rained hard, with thunder and lightning etc, so it was a real nice surprise to wake up to a very calm dawn with a misty sunrise.

Once onsite and checked in with the Clerk of the Course (Michele Brunt from Thames Valley Car Club) we started driving up Wade Road onto the stage.  The road started to climb quite steeply in places, and before long we were up above the mist and able to look down onto Whitianga – wow what a great view!  We slowly drove the stage looking for some places to safely park the car, and to stand to take photos.  After driving the whole course, we decided to head back to the midpoint marshal point as this looked a good place to park and potentially get some good pics.

Me clearing long grass to make sure I had a clear shot!
Me clearing long grass to make sure
I had a clear shot!

Manning this point was Phil Broadbent and Dondy Needham.  It was nice to hear that Phil had already got hold of one of my car stickers from Carl Davies and stuck it on his rear bumper, which he promptly knocked it off at Maramarua – thanks anyway Phil – I’ll send you another one.After checking some places to shoot from during recce, I was pretty sure we had a good place.  Alex Kelsey was through first, and boy he was on it right away, and confirmed I was in a pretty good place.  Next up was Andrew Hawkeswood in his Audi.  I was really keen to see this car in action as I’d only see photos previously.  His car was misfiring badly and not performing as he went past, and was unfortunately towed back to the start by Alex. By run two the sun was starting to come out, which was great for most, but causing me an issue with the photos, as part of the shots would be in dark shade and the the other in bright sun – its not as easy as you think to get a decent shot!  Even better news was Andrew’s Audi was back running and at full pace this time.  Awesome!

Cam Davies
Cam Davies

Moving to the other end of the scale of competitors, young Cam Davies in a Toyota Starlet was driving really well, nice and tidy.  It paid off with 3rd in his class – well done Cam!

I’m always looking out for drivers who catch my eye for entertainment value, and displaying the spirit of club sport rallying.  With that in mind you can’t really go past Ian Wood.  Back in a DX Corolla he was sure to be worth watching.  Well, he didn’t disappoint – he arrived into the corner with a rather unusual exhaust setup, but still on the pace.  After fixing his exhaust, he managed to get noticed on the next run – especially by Dylan, who was on the receiving end of a rock that was thrown out by Ian’s car.  It managed to knock Dylan to his knees, which when he got up revealed quite a nasty gash on his leg. Phil and Dondy carried Dyls back to the car where Dondy administered some First Aid (Thanks heaps Dondy – we owe you a beer or two).

Corrin Whyte
Corrin Whyte

We decided that we would take Dyls down to the start line to be seen by St Johns, but we would have to wait until the end of the run.  Other drivers which caught my eye on this corner were David Wright and Corrin Whyte.  They were trying hard, and 100% committed – Corrin was very impressive, and VERY sideways, so I’m awarding him my “Sideways Driver of the Day”.  It was a close call as Alex Kelsey and Andrew Hawkeswood were right up there in terms of sliding sideways, but Corrin just stole it from them with his sheer exuberance! – Corrin, just email me to get your free print (jase@alittlebitsideways.co.nz)

This is one event where I wish I could name each driver in my report, but fear I would just bore you all.  I was really impressed with the driving.  It looked like everyone was having fun, which is great.  I will try to make sure there is at least one photo of everyone below, and as much video footage as possible.  Remember, you can get CD’s from me with ALL the photos I took of you on the day, and if there’s room on the disk, the video too – just email me if you’d like to order one.

The weather was continually changing.  I was in a t-shirt one minute in glorious sunshine, to being wrapped up in everything I had, standing in torrential rain – which at times was horizontal due to the wind.  You’ll see what I mean in some of the video footage.  You’d swear it was filmed on different days!

The atmosphere for the whole event was great, and the day ran pretty smoothly, especially given 50+ entries.  I really liked the fact that there was a small bus on hand to ferry spectators in and out of the stage.  This sport needs that to happen more often to encourage people to come and see the talent we have here in NZ’s rally and clubsport scene.  If the spectators come, then hopefully sponsors will too.  Full results can be found here

I now know what the buzz about Wade Road was, and I’m seriously thinking I will have to drive next year instead of taking photos!  A big thank you to Michele and ALL the other TVCC members and volunteers who made this event happen.

I’ll add more photos and video in a few days.



Video Part 1

Video Part 2

Video Part 3

Video Part 4

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