In­ter­na­tional Rally of Whangarei

Words and photos: Steve Ritchie

New Zealand Classic Car - - Nationwide Events - Words and photos: Christo­pher Moor

The In­ter­na­tional Rally of Whangarei was once again the open­ing round of the Asia Pa­cific Cham­pi­onship, as well as be­ing round two of the New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship. The rally con­sisted of 16 spe­cial stages to­talling 263km over the two days of com­pe­ti­tion, in­clud­ing the two one-kilo­me­tre su­per spe­cial stages on Fri­day night on cen­tral Whangarei’s Puhoe Is­land.

Weather con­di­tions were rather av­er­age, to say the least, mak­ing it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the cars to stay on the gravel. As an ex­am­ple, at the con­clu­sion of Satur­day’s rac­ing, just 37 of 61 starters ac­tu­ally fin­ished the day, such were the con­di­tions.

Although the main draw­card is usu­ally the mod­ern cars, such as the AP4 and the APRC cars, spec­ta­tors are of­ten drawn to the event to watch the older rally cars. These in­cluded ve­hi­cles such as Mike and He­len Cameron’s 1977 Mit­subishi Lancer. The pair won the 2009 Clas­sic New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship in this car. For this round, it was run­ning a stan­dard 1597cc 4G32 unit, of lower spec com­pared to the higher spec 4G32 mo­tor that they nor­mally run, which meant they were not re­ally able to chal­lenge for the Clas­sic class win — although, un­like many, they did make it to the end, in 26th place over­all.

An­other of the older gen­er­a­tion was the 1969 Hill­man Hunter (Mr Shifta) of Mur­ray O’neill and Jeff Ward. This car is pow­ered by a 4.4-litre Rover V8 en­gine, and was reg­u­larly ral­lied in the cen­tral North Is­land, even win­ning the Taranaki Rally on one oc­ca­sion. Jeff has owned it for nine months, hav­ing pur­chased it to race in the Ash­ley For­est rally. The owner prior to Jeff tak­ing over the keys had owned it for 40 years! The Skoda 130 LR of John Coker and Mike Mack is an­other to have made an ap­pear­ance, along with the usual Es­corts, the RX-7 of John Sil­cock and Richard Atkin­son, and a Mit­subishi Star­ion.

In the Clas­sic class, the main fight was be­tween John Sil­cock’s RX-7 and Tony Gosling’s Sta­dium Cars Es­cort RS1800, with Sil­cock tak­ing out the first stage, while Gosling came back to take out the sec­ond stage, with the two fin­ish­ing the night stage just tenths of a sec­ond apart.

Satur­day’s stages were run north of Whangarei on four dif­fer­ent pieces of road, with each run twice over. Spe­cial Stage 8 was can­celled due to some un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances. Once again, the Es­cort and RX-7 were trad­ing places, although through­out the day the Es­cort built a handy gap from John’s RX-7. With the clouds very low over­head, the fi­nal stage of the day fin­ished in dark­ness. Sev­eral re­tire­ments oc­curred on Satur­day, and the ser­vice park was a hive of ac­tiv­ity that night. Most did well to re­pair their cars for the fol­low­ing day.

Sun­day was an­other day of dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, although the weather did slowly fine up, with the af­ter­noon’s prize-giv­ing un­der­taken in sun­shine. Gosling and Sil­cock once again had a fierce bat­tle, trad­ing stage wins.

With all stages com­plete, and times con­firmed, Tony Gosling and co-driver Blair Read, with their to­tal time of 2:57:58.2, were the winners of the Clas­sic class. Sec­ond place, as ex­pected, went to the pair­ing of John Sil­cock and Richard Atkin­son. To be el­i­gi­ble for the Clas­sic class (Cat­e­gory 4: His­toric), cars must hold a His­toric Tech­ni­cal Pass­port com­pli­ant to the FIA Euro­pean His­toric Sport­ing Rally Cham­pi­onship or the Sport­ing Ral­lies of the ASN.

In the main New Zealand Cham­pi­onship class, Matt

Sum­mer­field and co-driver Ni­cole Sum­mer­field had an out­stand­ing drive to come in as winners af­ter a hard-fought bat­tle with Dy­lan Turner and Mal­colm Read in a new Audi S1 AP4. This was a tremen­dous ef­fort, as it was their first time rac­ing the car. In third place, and a minute be­hind, were Dar­ren Gal­braith and Rocky Hud­son in a Mit­subishi Lancer Evo VIII. Sev­eral con­tenders for the cov­eted ti­tle fell vic­tim to the con­di­tions or me­chan­i­cal is­sues, in­clud­ing Greg Mur­phy, Emma Gil­mour, and last year’s cham­pion, David Holder.

In the group of over­seas cars rac­ing in the APRC, the pair­ing of Gau­rav Gill and Stephane Prevot had a fight on their hands to fend off their Team MRF Skoda team­mates Ole Chris­tian Veiby and Stig Rune Skjær­moen for the win.

The New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship will now head to the Lone Star Can­ter­bury Rally for round three of the six-round cham­pi­onship, to be held on June 4.

The MTA (Mo­tor Trade As­so­ci­a­tion) cel­e­brated its cen­te­nary with a show of past, pre­sent and fu­ture cars at TSB Arena and Shed 6, Queens Wharf, Welling­ton, on Satur­day April 29 and Sun­day April 30.

The dis­play ac­tu­ally be­gan on the wharf, where a glass-sided case housed what is be­lieved to be New Zealand’s old­est car, an 1895 Benz Velo from the South­ward Mu­seum, at Para­pa­raumu.

In Shed 6, vis­i­tors com­menced the tour at ‘Great Ki­wis and Great Cars’, where they joined ex­hi­bi­tion staff in en­thus­ing over a 2009 Hulme Bear One. Add the Trekka, the am­phibi­ous Aquada, and a 1964 Mini Cooper that broke a world speed record in 2016, at the age 52, to the mo­tor­bikes of Bert Munro and John Brit­ten for a nos­tal­gic walk around New Zealand’s motoring her­itage.

It was then into the TSB Arena for ‘The Fu­ture To­day’, to see the Swiss-built Rin­speed Budii self-driven con­cept car and cur­rent petrol and elec­tric mod­els. Ac­cord­ing to pub­lic­ity re­leases for the event, this was the first time a Rin­speed had been dis­played any­where in Aus­trala­sia.

The tour con­cluded in the un­der­ground car park with the clas­sic and vin­tage cars in a rather sparse lay­out called ‘For the Love of Cars’. In­cluded were Mark Sains­bury’s 1962 Lin­coln Con­ti­nen­tal four-door con­vert­ible and a 1931 His­pano-suiza, two cars that had been the sub­ject of pre-show pub­lic­ity. New Zealand Clas­sic Car read­ers who at­tended Bri­tish Car Day at Tren­tham in Fe­bru­ary may have remembered see­ing the His­pano-suiza there.

An­other Aquada was based at Frey­berg La­goon, a few min­utes away from the show venue. On the Satur­day, it per­formed turns around the har­bour. When it was parked up on land be­tween turns, fam­i­lies lined up to be pho­tographed with it for a sou­venir of the soon-to-end school hol­i­days.

For me, the high­light of the MTA 100 was the Anziel Nova, tucked away among the vin­tage and clas­sic cars. This 1967 fi­bre­glass pro­to­type is a re­minder of the car man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try New Zealand could have had if the gov­ern­ment of the era had been more sup­port­ive.

Whether the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence lived up to its pro­mo­tion as the Car Show of the Cen­tury will be one of personal opin­ion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.