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Chris West has won this year's Metalman Possum Bourne Memorial Rally in the Waikato region of New Zealand's north island. 

The fourth running of the Pukekohe Car Club event, organised as a tribute to the late Possum Bourne, was held in sunny conditions with 76 cars led by current New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon leaving the Hamilton Workingmens Club at 7am to commence the 200km of special stages.

West was competitive but not stunning over the first three stages of the event and then launched his assault on Special Stage 4, Waitomo, winning the stage by over 26 seconds to Hamilton's Stephen Barker, to take the lead from Andrew Hawkeswood.  He then controlled the field for the rest of the day despite not winning another stage.  The Christchurch driver was thrilled with his first win since his International Rally of Whangarei triumph in 2008. 

"It was a great event, with fantastic roads. We took a softer tyre than everyone else for Waitomo and that was the difference.  There was a lot of loose gravel and lots of tyre issues today.  We didn’t have any more soft tyres left so we had to hold on for the rest of the day. 

"The rally was a good opportunity to come and try the car after our issues in Wairarapa with 200km of stages in one day.  It gave us good miles before Rally Nelson," said West.

The spectacular Hawkeswood blamed a poor tyre choice for his 47 second time loss in the Waitomo stage despite beating West on several stages in the afternoon.  Surprise early leader Neil Marshall of Taranaki finished fourth after being pipped in the last stage by 20 year old Barker who showed impressive pace, continuing his promising debut year at this level. 

Marshall, who has burst to the top of Clubmans rallying this year with wins in Taranaki and Waitomo, took the lead in the Whaanga Coast stage - a feat even more spectacular due to the fact that he had never rallied on the stage before and as a competitor in the Te Rapa Automotive Repairs Top Half Rally Series was not allowed to do pre-event reconnaissance.  Marshall took overall and Class D honours in the Top Half Series however he remains points behind Craig Stevens whose consistent class performances leave him at the top of the Top Half points.

Paddon used the day as a test session for his forthcoming assault on WRC Rally Australia as well as aiming to secure enough points in the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars International Award, to be confirmed for the November award shootout.  The Geraldine driver experienced a number of problems including a puncture in Special Stage 4 but did enough to confirm his participation at the end of year shootout while finishing seventh.

Mark Tapper, who is currently competing in the World Rally Championship as part of the Pirelli Star Driver programme had a challenging event with differential problems before the first stage of the day which weren’t fixed until after Special Stage 3, and punctures on Special Stage 2 and 4.  Despite this, he showed his world championship form with wins on Stages, 3, 6, 7, and 8 to showcase his pace.  Tapper used the event as a shakedown for his final few events in the WRC and as a test for his injured arm. 

"After the problems at the start of the day we treated the rest of the day as a test session.  The arm was fine, I didn’t even notice it except when we were between stages. It will be fine for Rally Australia," was the 28 year old's verdict on the day.

In the battle for Two Wheel Drive honours, the Ford Fiesta of Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship winner Ben Hunt triumphed after yet another epic battle with Ben Jagger.  The two young drivers fought hard all day with Jagger holding a small lead going into the final stage where he punctured, losing over three minutes but managed to remain second 2WD car.  Third 2WD was former National Champion Stumpy Holmes in his Escort, almost four minutes behind Hunt. 

Jagger's placings through the day confirmed him for the end of year Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Development award shootout with Hunt's points tally for the weekend improving his chances which will conclude at his home rally in Nelson next month.

Brendan and Natasha Oakden were winners in Class E, with Holmes taking Class C, Miles McElwain and Brian Johnson taking Class B in the last stage by 10 seconds, and Michael and Barry Bunyard winning Class A by over ten minutes in their Nissan Sunny.

Results: Overall Metalman Possum Bourne Memorial Rally

Position Driver / Co-Driver Class Vehicle Total Time
1 Chris West / Chris Cobham D Mitsubishi Lancer 2:26:26.1
2 Andrew Hawkeswood / Glenn Goldring D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7 2:26:46.4
3 Stephen Barker / Brett Lightfoot D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 2:27:18.3
4 Neil Marshall / Tanya Gwynne D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6.5 2:27:32.7
5 Kieran Hall / Erin Kyle N4 Subaru Impreza STi 2:28:58.1
6 Hayden Paddon / Nicole France N4 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 2:29:11.9
7 Glenn Smith / Campbell Ward D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 2:30:04.6
8 Mark Tapper / Jeff Judd D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 2:30:11.8
9 Adam Bligh / Dave Devonport D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6 2:31:25.2
10 Stewart Taylor / Warwick Searle D Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9 2:32:12.9

Additional Information
Full Results are available from the website http://chrissport.co.nz/resultsDetail.php?id_event=82

For further information http://www.pbmrally.co.nz/

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