Kiws head to Hawke’s Bay for one-day sprint
- 31st July 2007, 8:20am
The fourth round of the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship is the Tomoana Warehousing one-day sprint through northern Hawke’s Bay roads on Saturday 4th August.
A precursor to the WRC Rally New Zealand event later in the month, the one-day rally through the Wairoa and Hastings districts covers seven popular stages that have historical rally origins.
Headed by defending champion, Masterton’s Richard Mason and Sara Randall in the yellow Subaru Impreza, the two-month break between rounds has hardly been a time of rest for many. Aside from rejuvenating panel form and shine, the evaluating of championship aspiring goals puts pressure on performance as the season heads in to the second half.
Mason’s win at the previous round puts him back at the front of the field as car sweeper through the 166.45km of gravel roads. A familiar position for the champion, he has Geraldine’s Hayden Paddon (Lancer EVO 8) a tantalising two points behind and with a more favoured road position. Mixed in to the Mitsubishi equation and fresh from the Elite Motorsport Academy, Rotorua’s Dean Sumner in his Lancer EVO 9 has shown field topping pace.
“I learned so much – it was an awesome week. Now it’s just a case of fine tuning everything I learned to prepare for the rally really,” started Sumner.
“For some reason rally drivers seem to think the Academy is for circuit drivers but no way – it’s all as much for rally as anything else. There were so many things – like improving my core fitness and to use relaxation to be more focused before an event. I learned a lot about improving the psychology and mind – how to re-programme.”
“I’ve just finished a day doing client rides and it was great practise. I’m pretty happy with the car at the moment but will be making some experimental changes that will hopefully make us a bit quicker.”
Bolstering Subaru’s manufacturer championship chances with Mason, Palmerston North’s Sam Murray is a comfortable third in the standings and practically the only other driver poised to challenge for outright honours. Back for her second run in a brand new car, Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour has been tuning the new Impreza to handle and feel similar to her previous stead.
Leading the rookie standings, Tauranga’s Callum McInnes has a substantial point advantage over 17-year old Northlander Kirsty Nelson. Also in the class are a number of the classic category competitors – who will also challenge a round at the Hawke’s Bay event.
Following an expensive drive failure at the Wairarapa weekend, Classic Championship defender Bert Murray has pressure to return the Mazda RX7 to the front after being passed by new leader Euan Fuge (Mazda RX3). Both teams are familiar with the Hawke’s Bay roads and with Rob Wylie’s (Auckland) Nissan 240RS in the middle of the points sandwich, sideways action is assured.
Making a snack of the Kiwi-2 Championship; former champion Dave Strong (Honda Civic) has stormed to a comfortable lead against one of his previously campaigned entries – now driven by second placed Andrew Keighley. However it’s defending champion Aaron Cook in the Honda Jazz who has been the pacesetter of the class.
With the Kiwi-2 cars being pushed along by an expanding Ford Fiesta line-up, the Hawke’s Bay event will welcome a fifth car to the starting blocks. Matched in performance, it has been Auckland’s Mark Tapper heading the field, although his mechanical failures have elevated rival Kayne Barrie to the series lead.
“We’ve been working toward few things – because we now have to defend a lead as opposed to having to win. But at Hawke’s Bay we are going to have a push. We had a power loss at Wairarapa and after dyno testing hopefully we’ll be able bridge the gap a bit between Mark Tapper and us,” said Kayne Barrie.
“The really great thing with these cars is you can’t cheat with them. If you get beaten then it’s all down to one thing.”
Complete with a car show on Friday evening from 6pm at Napier’s Soundshell on Marine Parade, the event begins with a ceremonial start at 7:00pm. The action side of the rally begins at 6am on the Saturday morning, with the cars touring to the first competitive test of 31km off the Napier-Taupo highway. Continuing north toward Wairoa, they have two service breaks in the rural serving town before the southern trek to finish at Napier’s West Quay at 4:25pm on the Saturday afternoon.
Photo: Euan Cameron
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