In­ter­na­tional Rally of Whangarei

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New Zealand Classic Car - - NATIONWIDE EVENTS -

TSteve Ritchie

he In­ter­na­tional Rally of Whangarei was round one of the Asia-pa­cific Rally Cham­pi­onship (APRC) as well as the sec­ond round of the New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship (NZRC). Tak­ing place over the fi­nal weekend of April, it was made up of 16 spe­cial stages which cov­ered a to­tal of 274.9km from south Whangarei to north Whangarei. The pop­u­lar­ity of ral­ly­ing in New Zealand has cer­tainly gone up a notch with the World Rally Cham­pi­onship ( WRC) win by Hay­den Pad­don and co-driver John Ken­nard in the Rally Ar­gentina, which took place just one week prior to this event. In­cred­i­bly, the pair made it back for the Rally of Whangarei to race in the Force Mo­tor­sport–pre­pared Hyundai i20. How­ever, the first day of rac­ing saw them dogged with dif­fer­en­tial is­sues, which forced them to re­tire. They came back strong on Sun­day to win all six stages in spec­tac­u­lar form.

The His­toric class takes place within the NZRC. Al­though this was made up of just three com­peti­tors, they were ev­ery bit as en­ter­tain­ing to watch, since they had none of the mod-cons the newer cars did. Satur­day also saw the in­clu­sion of the Top Half Rally Se­ries, in which many of the drivers from the NZRC were also en­tered. The win­ners of the se­ries were Kings­ley and Waver­ley Jones in their Mit­subishi Lancer Evo VII.

Night run

The cer­e­mo­nial open­ing by Mayor Sheryl Mai on the Te Matau Pohe bridge kicked off the rally on Fri­day evening, and the cars then raced un­der

lights through Pohe Is­land on two runs for spe­cial stages one and two. As these two stages were just 1.25km, tim­ing did not count for too much. That said, it was the Skoda of Gau­rav Gill and Glenn Mac­neall that led the APRC af­ter stage two, while the pair­ing of Hay­den Pad­don and John Ken­nard was the fastest by the nar­row­est of mar­gins among the na­tion­alcham­pi­onship run­ners.

Day one

The first full day of rac­ing saw the cars com­pete in eight stages north of Whangarei. This con­sisted of four sec­tions of road be­ing raced twice over. In the APRC, the bat­tle was on be­tween Skoda team­mates Gau­rav Gill and Fabian Kreim. Al­though Gill won five of the eight stages, it was Kreim who came out on top of the standings come the end of the first day, due to the mis­for­tune of a punc­ture to Gill’s car in the He­lena stage. The He­lena stage was later can­celled af­ter cham­pi­onship leader Ben Hunt rolled his car. Al­though he and his co-driver were air­lifted to the lo­cal hos­pi­tal, both were cleared of any in­juries. In the lo­cal cham­pi­onship, David Holder and co-driver Ja­son Farmer, driv­ing a Lancer Evo VIII (ex Hay­den Pad­don), fin­ished the day in the lead thanks to their stun­ning drive and the mis­for­tunes of oth­ers. Mean­while, fur­ther down the standings, Mar­cus van Klink had stamped his author­ity in the His­toric class by win­ning six of the eight stages.

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