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New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) debutant Kingsley Thompson has made a promising start to the 2009 season at last weekends Rally of Hawkes Bay.

Piloting the brand new Team Dilusi Mitsubishi Evolution X, Thompson and co-driver Richard Ellis quickly showed their potential, trading stage times with the top 10 contenders and finishing the first day 6th in the NZRC Group N Championship.

Seeded 11th on the road the pair also took no time proving the performance of the latest version of Mitsubishi’s legendary rally weapon, the first time an Evolution X has rallied in the national championship.

Impressed with the car’s handling in what was the teams first major test of the season, Thompson credited the cars fantastic driveability and predictable handling for the result.  “We spent some time with Alister McRae setting the car up in the forest before the event and it’s paid dividends… it just gives you so much confidence knowing how it’s going to react.”

Going into day 2 keen to build upon their strong initial performance and push for valuable rookie points, the Team Dilusi duo applied the pressure from the start.  

But just over half way into the first stage of the day disaster struck.  While crossing a ford the car hit a rock, peeling off the sump guard and coming to a halt beside the other Evolution X of Sloan Cox which had suffered the same fate.

Despite managing to limp 10 km to the end of the stage the team was forced to retire choosing not to risk further damage to the car.

Although disappointed not to have finished the weekend the team remained upbeat about their efforts and are looking forward to making amends at next round of the championship, the Rally of Otago, in May.
 
“With a brand new car you’ve got to expect a couple of minor teething problems,” said Thompson.  “We’ve definitely got some unfinished business and we’ll be out to make up for it in Dunedin.” 
 
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