Sprint spec­ta­cle

Northern Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - JONATHAN LEASK

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.

AL­LAN PRITCHARD

Ro­torua’s Sloan Cox on his way to win­ning the 2017 Ashley For­est Rally Sprint.

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