Summerfield wins in treacherous Canterbury Rally
Rangiora brother and sister duo Matt and Nicole Summerfield have taken their second consecutive round win in the New Zealand Rally Championship.
In the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship fuelled by Gull and driven by Dunlop after mastering the difficult conditions at the Lone Star Rally Canterbury.
The Summerfield pair driving a Subaru, led home Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn’s Subaru by 2 minutes 16.2 seconds, with Gull Rally Challenge competitors Deane Buist and Karl Celeste producing a superb permeance in their two-wheel drive Ford Escort. Hunt’s drive also saw him claim the Dunlop drive of the Rally.
Wet conditions greeted crews at the Rangiora start, making the roads in the Ashley and Okuku forest making the roads treacherous. Summerfield took the lead on the opening stage before Darren Galbraith and Rockstar Hudson leaped into the lead after stage two. The pair traded the lead over the first five stages before Galbraith was forced to retired due to over-heating issues, at which time the pair were separated by one tenth of a second.
After Galbraith’s retirement, Summerfield looks set to take charge of the rally, however centre differential issues left him vulnerable to them second place Graham Featherstone only for Featherstone to crash out on the penultimate special stage.
A strong run for Josh Marston and Andrew Graves saw them claim 4th place in their Holden Barina AP4+ ahead of Rhys Gardner and Alex Ramsay. The top ten was rounded out by Andrew Hawkeswood/Jeff Cress, who also won the power stage, Anthony Jones/Tanya Gwynne, Job Quantock/Jason Farmer, Keith Anderson/Samantha Gray and Greg Murphy/Mark Leonard.
The NZRC two-wheel drive category was a battle of attrition that would eventually go the way of Max T and Glenn Goldring after both Dylan Thomson/Amy Hudson and Ari Pettigrew/David Calder left the road, while Robbie & Amy Stokes and Chris McLean/Sarah Brennan were sidelined by mechanical issues.
The Open two-wheel drive class saw Anthony Jones and Tanya Gwynne take victory in their Ford Escort, leading home Marcus van Klink/Dave Neill’s Mazda RX-8. The Hillman Hunter V8 of Jeff Ward and Murray O’Neill’s challenge was ended when they hit a tree in stage two.
The Historic class saw Regan Ross and Lisa Hudson lead most of the day until an electrical failure delayed them in the penultimate stage, dropping them to fourth. That left Tony Gosling and Blair Read to take their second class win of the season, ahead of Graeme Coey/Tony Witheridge and Paul Fraser/Noel Moloney. Mike and Helen Cameron rounded out the class finishers, while John Silcock/Richard Atkinson were forced out after hitting a tree.
The Gull Rally Challenge was won by Buist/Celeste, who also led home David Taylor/Pania Huntley in the two-wheel drive class, while Keith Anderson/Samantha Gray won the four-wheel drive class and a drum of Gull Force Pro Liquid Horsepower, heading home Richard Bateman/Jordyn Smith and Fred Merkin/Sandra Everson.
The championship now takes a mid-season break before returning at Goldrush Rally Coromandel on August 26.
Dylan Turner 47