MCRAE VICTORIOUS AT ASHLEY FOREST
While two Kiwi drivers ducked out of the running with mechanical issues, Scotsman Alister McRae held true to become the first international driver to win The Ashley Forest Rallysprint, with a 55.35s in his second run in the final, beating Neil Webb’s 56.04s. The history-making victory comes off the back of McRae taking top honours at Rod Millen’s Leadfoot Festival earlier in the year, both times behind the wheel of the ex–Possum Bourne Vantage WRX — a fitting vehicle for the occasion, as Bourne had won the event in 1989, 1991, and 2000.
Kiwi World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon looked to be headed towards a courserecord setting time until the 2.1-litre fire-breather in his Hyundai AP4 dropped its oil mid run and saw the internals sent to hell — it’s the second year in a row that mechanicals have plagued him at the event.
Likewise with current record holder Sloan Cox, who was left with power only at the fronts when a hydraulic centre diff pump blew, the car proving too much to pedal through the ruts, which led to a broken rear arm. But consolation for a tough weekend is that his 2017 record still stands at 54.96s.
McRae nipped at Cox’s heels with a fastest time of 55.17s over the weekend.