What a year we’ve had so far. Late 2016 I decided to enter the KSL motorsport Evo 1 into the Grp A challenge. Looked like a good class to get into, with some really smart looking cars from the late 80’s early 90’s all eligible to enter.
2015/16 had been slightly frustrating and so I handed the car to Daryl @ TECPRO performance to work his magic. The first two rounds nominated for me, being based in Taranaki had to be Otago and Canterbury, because that makes perfect sense!!
So here we are Waitomo and due to some good luck on my part and bad luck for Phil Collins in the Audi we head to Waitomo level on points with Matt Adams in the Vr4. Not only that but all we have to do is finish to claim 2nd O/A for 2017.
Now if you’ve taken any notice of my other rally reports this year you’ll have seen my Service truck has been a challenge, and to be fair this event was no different. 3pm the day before I was due to leave the water pump let go. I’m extremely fortunate to have Midhirst Service Station sponsor me, By 5 the water pump was removed, replaced and fluids topped up. By 9am the following morning it was back at home, trailer on, with the Evo safely strapped on. Can’t thank the guys enough.
Waitomo is the closest we were going to get to a home rally this year. Pio Pio is only2 hours from home and the Service at Ohura isn’t that far at all. I may have done a trip out there once or twice in my time as a volunteer ambulance officer. And so I flew to Auckland, many thanks to Matt Adams for the ride south to Hamilton and down to Doco. Was great to catch up with Bryn Smith/Andy Beck after his sabbatical for the last year and Jeff Ward who was also heading down with us.
Doco was relatively non eventful, caught up with Tania who was in the silly seat again this rally and we headed south to Te Kuiti for the night and to save 80 mins of travel the following morning at silly o’clock for recce.
The following morning after topping up with fuel, coffee and BP chicken bites we headed down to Pio Pio and out to the first stage. Weather was fine yet chilly but if it stayed as it was it was going to be a great event.
Stage 1 was fast. I’m sure everyone was pleasantly surprised. We made sure we had good some notes because it was going to be all go from the start. It was a little dusty as the convoy made its way through, but rain had been forecast for that evening. If we got that we were in good shape.
Recce went well. Positive changes to our notes throughout the day, only downside was Tania wasn’t feeling too good as we toured between SS3 and 4. I swear it wasn’t my driving!
After 400+ kms we were heading back to Hamilton for the ceremonial start. We assumed all was well with the car and the truck as we heard nothing from the guys all day.
When we arrived the car was on display, next to my old mate Simon Bell’s Legacy. Apparently he’d been parked there since 0830 that morning and was out shopping. Slowly the field grea and the usual ore event banter and bullshit could start amongst the crews. We’d been seeded amongst our Grp A rivals and so banter was the order of the day.
Back down to Te Kuiti for the night, and ready for an early start the following morning. It was going to be a big day. As we cruised South the rain was steady in places. Looked like the perfect scenario if it stopped before morning.
Rally day dawned, another clear morning, as usual, far too early but allowed for plenty of prep time. We still had to spanner check the car before we started.
That done, the guys headed off to Ohura for service 1 and we lined up with the other crews awaiting the start. While we were waiting Tania was approached for a selfie with the local MP Barbara Kuriger, to which she duly obliged. I had no idea my co driver was so famous.
Start came and went, a decent tour out to SS1, plenty to get some heat in the tyres and brakes. Nothing to report all going well. SS1 was awesome, well the first half anyway. Mid way through we developed a miss, intermittent, but enough to put you off commiting 100% or in my case 76%. We headed for service, with something for the guys to do.
A change of plugs, new tyres on the front and we headed out to SS2, approx. 1km from where we had serviced. We didn’t get that far when the car dropped a couple of cylinders and sounded like a tractor. Big call now. Temporary withdrawal and hand 2nd O/A to Phil or keep going and try and fix later. We went with plan B. On the start line it fired back into life and we managed to nurse the old girls through the stage. I say nurse, big spin approx 5 kms in which had us on the brink of climbing a bank and turning over. The worst part was the car stalled and wouldn’t restart for 15-20 seconds.
We made our way out of the stage, still with an intermittent miss and got to the refuel area. While the guys refueled the car I was under the bonnet checking plugs, wires and anything else I could think of to try to remedy our issue.
Stage 3 was great, even the goat track bit at the end. But we made it through and it seemed I’d managed to sort the miss. Back to Ohura for another service. Daryl and Clint gave the car a once over, rechecked everything I’d done at the refuel with a view to ensuring our miss was gone.
Stage 4 and 5 were good. We managed to get ourselves in 2nd for the Grp A challenge for the every behind Matt who was somewhere ahead in the distance, but we were having fun running with Simon and Phil (who was having ECU issues).
Stage 6, 1 to go. Don’t mess it up, we were in good shape. Approx 5km in I nudged a large rock causing the left front to deflate. After running on it for 4-5 km we had to stop and change it. That was 2nd for the rally gone. After a near death experience changing it. Sounded like huff and puff as we moved away. Maybe my fitness had disappeared for the day.
When we finally got going again, we got after it with 5 mins lost to the guys ahead. Car felt a little loose as we got towards the end of the stage, but we finished and just had the tour back to the finish at the clubrooms.
We’d done it. 3 finishes from 3 rallies this year. Missed the Grp A podium for this event but had come away with 2nd O/A for the year. Well surpassing all my expectations.
Well done to Matt and Karl Adams on 1st Grp A 2017 and to Phil Collins and Tracey Spark for 3rd for the year.
We’ve had some great banter, met some awesome people and done a few Km’s between.
Thanks to Tania for sitting in the silly seat for the Challenge this year. Look forward to repeating next year. To Daryl and Clint for the hours of work put in preparing and travelling away with us.
To my sponsors, couldn’t have done this without you all this year.
· Konnect Safety Ltd
· TECPRO Performance
· Midhirst Service Station
· Stratford Panelbeaters
· Total Turbo
· Tommos Tyres
· GT Oils
· Zodiac Signs
· Clearwater Painting and Building
· Ben Thomas Panelbeaters
And of course to my wife and daughter who put up with the hours in the shed, the days awat for each event and then me buggering back off overseas to work immediately following each event this year.
Looking forward to the 2018 Grp A challenge.