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Auckland’s Patrick Malley has survived the carnage of the Rally of the North and set a consistent pace to claim a slim seven second victory despite gearbox problems hampering his progress from the very first stage.

Malley had come off a fantastic third overall at the final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship in Nelson and looked to carry that speed into Paihia. Picked by many as a favourite to win the rally outright, Malley and co-driver Malcolm Read were confident of a good result.

However within a minute of starting the opening special stage the car lost fifth gear, a serious handicap on the fast and flowing roads that made up the single day event. Despite the handicap, Malley powered the Citizen Watches backed Evo 9 to third fastest.

“The initial thought was to pull out, change the gearbox and rejoin, but we weren’t that far off the pace. So we crossed our fingers and stuck with it.” commented Malley

By the time the lunch break rolled around after four stages, Malley had dropped time then regained his third place, and was 39 seconds behind the leaders but unable to back off, being only eight seconds ahead of fourth placed Kingsley Thompson.

After lunch Malley attacked but kept out of trouble and reaped the rewards. Lunchtime leader Neil Marshall left the road, handing the lead to Kingsley Jones who punctured. The lead then went to Malley who was ahead of Thompson by three seconds.

“It was about then we realised we were in with a shot for the win.” said Malley.

After setting identical times in the penultimate stage it came down to the final 25 kilometre stage and, despite it being one of the fastest of the rally, Malley took his first stage victory for the day and the rally win outright. It was the second outright victory of his young career after winning a two-wheel drive rally in his NZ Truth Fiesta.

“It’s like having your first win all over again. They will both mean a lot to me, but this was really special.” said an ecstatic Malley.

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