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"That would have to be the best $1500 we have ever spent," was leading Nelson rally driver Kieran Hall's comment as he surveyed the remains of his Southfuels Subaru Impreza, after a 170kph crash saw his goal of becoming the 2009 New Zealand Rally Championship [NZRC] Rookie Champion dashed on the final stage of Day One of the Rally of Nelson last weekend - September 19 - 20.
 
Clipping a large hidden rock on the inside of a high-speed bend catapulted the car upside down and head-on into a bank on the opposite side of the road and it came to rest within 80 metres of the rock, making for an enormous rate of deceleration.
 
The fact that KIeran and Co-Driver Peter Hart were able to walk away from the wreck, and signal to following cars that they were ok, is testament to not only the structural integrity of their Southfuels Subaru, but also the HANS [Head And Neck Support] Devices they were wearing, which ensured the sudden stop did them no harm.
 
"The worst part was all the gravel and rubbish that caught me in the face as the car initially hit the bank with my side of the windscreen, but I reckon I wouldn't be here making these comments now if it hadn't been for the HANS Device, that's for sure...!", said Kieran.
 
"The car's a mess and our dreams' gone, but we are both ok, so we are Proof Positive that HANS are a 'Must' for our sport nowadays."
 
"So now we have to re-group and, following discussions with our Sponsors and Supporters, work out what we can do to salvage what we can from the car and decide what our best options are - to either reshell it or invest in a new one, so we can come back bigger and better than ever for the 2010 NZRC."
 
In the meantime Kieran will be concentrating on preparing for the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars International Award Final Shootout to be held in the Maramarua Forest, south of Auckland, over the weekend of November 21 and 22, having gained automatic qualification after last weekend.
 
The International Award winner - who will be selected from the three qualifiers - will win a prize package worth at least $50,000, which includes a financial contribution and professional mentoring, to use towards competing in an international rally in 2010.
 
"So we have plenty to do - and perhaps a bit more than we would have liked - but still have lots to look forward to in the next couple of months, as we put together year two of our four year programme to become NZ Rally Champions."
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