Rotorua driver Sloan Cox won the 30th running of the Ashley Forest Rally sprint on Sunday.
Cox (Mitsubishi EVO 8) set a winning time of 55.3s to beat the three-time defending champion, Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi Mirage), by over a second.
World Rally Championship star Hayden Paddon was forced out of the event with engine trouble.
His Hyundai was demonstrating a clear speed advantage through Saturday’s four qualifying runs over the 1.7km course, setting the fastest time of the day – 56.04s, before engine problems ended his run before the top 32.
That left Cox and Summerfield to duel it out.
Cox set a new course record, breaking his own previous record he set last year breaking the 17-year-old course record previously held by Kim Austin, in the top four clocking a slick 54.96s to go up against Summerfield for the second straight year.
This time Cox had the speed and opted to run second in the final. Sloan beat Matt Summerfield to take the victory
Summerfield produced his best effort of the weekend but 56.51s was blitzed by Cox, who clocked 55.13s.
Christchurch driver Michael Tall (Mitsubishi Mirage) was third after fellow Christchurch driver Richard Baddock (Subaru Impreza WRX) had a DNF in the final four.
Timaru’s Chris West (Mitsubishi Mirage) was fifth and Rangiora’s Matt Penrose (Subaru WRX) was sixth, recording a 59.67 in the top eight.
Another record also fell which had belonged to former event winner Kim Austin in the 2WD record set in 1988. Mosgiel’s Chris Hey (Toyota MR2) equaled Austin’s 1:02.45 in the top 32 round.
In his next run in the top 16, Hey went even quicker set a new 2WD record of 1:02.15 to finally claim the mark after being the fastest 2WD at this event 10 times.
Rangiora’s John Silcock (Mazda RX7), a former overall winner, took out the
Some last minute entries and withdrawals saw the number of starters become 53.
There were four runs per driver on Saturday before the final qualifying run on Sunday morning to find the top 32.
From there, the field was cut in half every run until the final two drivers, Cox and Summerfield, went head to head.
Rotorua’s Sloan Cox on his way to winning the 2017 Ashley Forest Rally Sprint.