Queenstown’s Mike Sheehan is gutted to be missing the fourth round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the Stadium Finance South Canterbury Rally, with a last-minute engine problem forcing him out of the event.
Sheehan was looking forward to the Timaru based event, which returns to the NZRC after almost 35 years, but a developing issue has left the whole Sheehans Motorsport crew frustrated to be spectating rather than participating.
Along with new co-driver Glenn Goldring, the pair will still contest the pre-event reconnaissance to build pace notes for future use.
“It’s a really weird one, we’ve left no stone unturned in trying to sort this problem but I’m gutted to say we just won’t be ready for South Canterbury, which is a shame as it looks like it will be an awesome event,” says Sheehan.
“It’s also not a great way to start a relationship with a new co-driver in Goldie, but we’ll do recce so we’ve got some good notes for next year.”
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Gilmour excited about South Canterbury's new roads
Rallying for more than a decade means Emma Gilmour has driven on many of New Zealand’s gravel roads, but this Saturday’s Stadium Finance 2018 Rally South Canterbury offers some fresh stages for the Dunedin driver.
This fourth round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) covers nearly 200 competitive kilometres and the 11-stages – with no repeats – use roads to the north-west and south-west of Timaru.
South Canterbury has been an NZRC round only twice before, back in the early 1980s, long before Emma’s rally days began.
"It will be great to have some new rally roads to challenge myself, and the field. I never contested the South Canterbury event when it was part of the South Island rally series, but from the photos and videos I’ve seen, the stages look amazing,” Emma says.
She joins a huge 96-car entry list, with Australian co-driver Anthony McLoughlin, who will assist her in writing their own pace notes from scratch.
“It will be a big few days of recce as we only have one pass over the stages to write up our notes. Then we go back to the hotel and watch our video footage and check that we have made the right calls for every corner,” Emma says.
She and McLoughlin will be looking for a podium finish in the Vantage Windows and Doors Suzuki Swift AP4 to ease the disappointment of a DNF at the previous round in Canterbury. The Suzuki’s front diff broke late in the day after contending with the treacherous, muddy conditions.
It has been a quick turnaround making the necessary repairs over the three-week gap between rounds and Emma was thankful that both rounds have been South Island-based, cutting down on travel time.
The ceremonial start will be held on Friday at Timaru’s Caroline Bay Soundshell from 6pm. Then the rally gets underway from Timaru at 7.30am on Saturday and finishes back at Levels Raceway from 3.30pm onwards.
The service park at Fairlie is a good place to see Emma and Anthony between stages and watch the mechanics getting the Vantage Windows and Doors Suzuki Swift AP4 ready for its next attack on the South Canterbury roads.
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van Klink excited for new challenge
Christchurch’s Marcus van Klink is excited to take on a new challenge when the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship’s fourth round heads for new ground with the Stadium Finance South Canterbury Rally.
The event is one of the most keenly anticipated in the season and van Klink can’t wait to unleash the powerful Buteline Mazda RX-8 triple rotor on the fast and flowing public roads that make up the event.
The start to the season has been a strong one for van Klink and co-driver Dave Neill, with class wins in the first two NZRC rounds, followed by an uncharacteristic mechanical failure on home ground at the Canterbury Rally.
Since the Canterbury event, the Klink Rallysport team have worked hard to repair the gearbox with just under three weeks between events. With the car ready to run, van Klink will again be looking for honours in the Gull Rally Challenge two-wheel drive class, as well as continuing his personal battle with friendly rival Regan Ross.
“I think everyone is looking forward to this one, from what we’ve seen of the event the roads look like they will be awesome and will suit plenty of horsepower. Lucky for us, we’ve got a bit of that,” says van Klink.
“We’ll be looking forward to a good battle for our class again, plus it’s always good to battle against Regan. There’s nothing more satisfying than beating him and reminding him about it!”
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