Hawkeswood encouraged by speed at Gisborne
- 8th July 2016, 5:54am
Andrew Hawkeswood has come away from the fourth round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, Rally Gisborne, highly encouraged by the increased speed the Force Motorsport team have found in the Mazda 2 AP4 car.
After coming home in second place at the third round, Rally Canterbury, the team worked on the engine package, adding a restrictor to the turbo charger with the aim of gaining some more driveability to the car. They also conducted testing with former Junior WRC competitor Brendan Reeves and suspension guru Murray Coote.
With the confidence of the newly developed package, Hawkeswood and co-driver Jeff Cress were fastest at the halfway point of the opening stage by five seconds, despite a stall on the start line costing a further six. However brake issues would slow the pair later in the stage, leaving them to take the runner up spot.
Getting cleanly into the second stage, Hawkeswood charged and by the halfway point was almost 11 seconds ahead of the chasing pack, but a missed gear change quickly led to a broken input shaft in the gearbox and any chance to turn the dominant speed into a rally win disappeared.
“I’m gutted to be fair, it was a silly mistake I made that caused the failure and that robbed us of what could have been a great result,” said Hawkeswood. “But the splits really show the speed we’ve got in the car. Putting a restrictor in it has transformed the way it drives and moving forward I don’t think it will be long before we can return Mazda to the top of the podium.”
Despite failing to finish, Hawkeswood still finds himself in contention to finish second in the NZRC, only eight points away from the runner up spot heading to the final round.
Hawkeswood and the Force Motorsport team now turn their attention to the final round of the NZRC, the Mahindra Goldrush Rally Coromandel, on August 20.
Photo: Scott Johnson
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