As you know last weekend the opening round of the New Zealand Rally Championship took place, the International Rally of Whangarei. It was my first event for the year so heading into it it was important to get some points on the board.
On Friday night there was two short publicity stages where spectators could come and have a look at the cars in action around the short stage Pohe Island. The turnout was impressive, but with it being the first 2 stages and plenty of places to go wrong Donna and I made it through them without taking any major risks.
On Saturday morning the nerves were flowing as we headed into the first stage of the day. The roads were slick from some overnight rain, and with more on the way they weren’t going to dry out. The first couple of stages went well, I was working my way into it but had still set some decent stage times. By the time the first service came round I was in 16th position, leading the 2 wheel drives by 15 seconds.
On went a fresh set of tyres and it was time to push hard on the second loop of the same stages. It paid off too, we managed to claw our way up to 10th position, pulling a good lead on the fellow 2 wheel drives.
Sunday stages went south of Whangarei and had some very fast roads with large sections of tarmac. We started off well, with a 13th fastest time through the first stage of the
day. The roads were awesome, huge fast crests which rewarded commitment. Asides from committing a bit too much over one we were enjoying ourselves. The next stage had a lot of tarmac, and with the soft rally tyres on for the slippery roads the tarmac sections really chew through the tyres. I held back to save the tyres for the next stage, where
again we were back right up on the pace. A service then let us into the final three stages. Three stages then turned into two after a fellow competitor had a major off causing the
second to last stage to be cancelled. We headed into the last stage 12th overall, just 3.7 seconds behind Brian Green. I pushed hard through the stage and managed to pip him by just 1.7 seconds.
So topping off the weekend we finished 7th overall, fastest 2wd and won our class. Donna and I are stoked with this, especially with the line up of cars that we were facing up against at the beginning of the weekend. That leaves us in a strong position of 6th overall on points, a great way to start the year.
With the Otago Rally just 3 weeks in-between preparations are already well underway. Thanks to Donna for calling the notes and Trev for getting the car through the rally. Also a big thanks to the sponsors, Farmlands, Freshmax, Gulf oils, VJ’s Distributers and John Bates Wheel Alignment.