Crene Corolla creams competition
It’s not often a Toyota Corolla has the edge over Porsches and BMWs.
But Greg Crene’s 1985 model was around two minutes ahead of the more expensive cars in the category three classic section of the Targa Rally this month.
The various stages between Auckland and Wellington took in the sights of Waitomo, Inglewood and Marton.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” says Crene, whose winning time was 6h 54m 12s after completing all 34 stages over six days.
The One Tree Hill resident’s Corolla was up against many different makes in the 1451km race because the classes are determined by age rather than model.
“We kept the car very standard with standard Corolla parts,” he says.
“We burned the midnight oil to make sure the little things didn’t go wrong.”
Completing stages without accidents, while reaching speeds of up to 187kmh on sometimes treacherous roads, was another important factor in the win.
“There were some twisty and windy parts. A lot of peo- ple crash through trying too hard,” Crene says.
And at times the drivers were so focused on completing a stage, they weren’t sure where in the country they were.
“Sometimes you don’t know whether you’re closer to Hastings or Wanganui.”
Crene and co-driver Craig Connell enjoyed the community feel of the event as well as the demanding course.
“If someone has a mechanical issue they can usually beg, steal or borrow a part and get back out there,” Connell says.
“You go into places you’ve never heard of.”
The team estimate they spent several thousand dollars during the race on the likes of entry fees and fuel.
But their car was so reliable they needed only one service car, driven by technical support expert Luke Wild, to look after mechanical problems. Many teams used two.
“It was a very low budget compared to a lot of the field.”
And after achieving his best result in four attempts at the rally, it’s not surprising Crene and crew will be back next year.
“I think we can sneak a bit more performance out of it.”
Rally racers: Targa Rally driver Greg Crene, left, technical support expert Luke Wild and co-driver Craig Connell took out category three in the classic car division of the race last month with their 1985 Toyota Corolla.