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NZ competitors chasing success in the ABC Pipe Fitters Northern Rallysprint Series will complete their season on Sunday. The final of the shortened five-round series is the Thames Valley Car Club’s popular Piakonui Road Rallysprint. The series is one of the few to survive the COVID-19 challenges relatively intact. All events have taken place at the original venues and the first three rounds were completed prior to any restrictions in New Zealand. The Maramarua Forest fourth round moved to a new date and the Hoddle Road event took place, but was dropped as a point-scoring round as Auckland-based competitors were under Lockdown restrictions. This Sunday’s 7.8km gravel finale is another former Rally of New Zealand special stage venue, a common theme across the calendar for the northern series. The action takes place in the Matamata-Morrinsville district. A 43-strong entry has been received with a number of drivers using the event as a test opportunity for upcoming rallies. Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour is planning to make another North Island outing in her Suzuki Swift AP4, Todd Bawden makes another appearance in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, and Dave Strong will be at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta S2000. Mitsubishi Lancer drivers lead the standings with Graham Featherstone (Evo 7) out in front with 237 points from Matt Jensen (Evo 6) on 225, and Hayden Mackenzie (Evo 9) with 224. Next in the overall standings are Grant Liston (Honda Integra) 220, Phil Broadbent (Evo 8) 219 and Charlie Evans (Mazda RX7) 215. There are some close class battles to be settled by Sunday’s result and the need for drivers to then discard their worst round. Class E (Open 4WD) sees Featherstone with a single point advantage over Matt Jensen, while Gareth Eady (Starlet) goes into the final round with a single point lead over Michele Brunt (Starlet) in a 1301-1600cc class. The Thames Valley Car Club have named the event the Andy Lowe Memorial Rallysprint in the honour of stalwart competitor and club member, Andy Lowe, who passed away in January. Lowe was well known for competing in TVCC events in his MG B GT V8 and the field this weekend includes Andrew Walbran from the MG Car Club, who will be driving his father Paul's MG as a tribute to Andy.
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