Visiting Australian rallying ace wins Mahindra Goldrush Rally of Coromandel
Brendan Reeves has added his name to a select group of Australian rally drivers to achieve victory on New Zealand gravel.
Driving the first generation of Force Motorsport’s Mazda2 AP4 spec cars in a one-off appearance, Victorian Reeves and his co-driving sister Rhianon Gelsomino claimed an impressive win at Saturday’s Mahindra Goldrush Rally of Coromandel which completed the New Zealand Rally Championship season.
Australian success on New Zealand events includes Bruce Hodgson winning the 1971 Heatway Rally in a Mark II Lotus Cortina and more recently Asia Pacific successes at Whangarei by Cody Crocker and Chris Atkinson along with an Otago Classic Rally victories by Neal Bates.
Reeves had talked down his chances pre-event but hit the ground running by winning the opening Ernslaw Forest stage near Whitianga ahead of Force Motorsport team-mate Andrew Hawkeswood (Auckland) in the newer generation Mazda2.
Matt and Nicole Summerfield were the best of the Kiwi crews taking second place in their Subaru. Photo / Colin Smith
As the rally zig-zagged across the peninsula roads, Reeves posted five more fastest times in the 10-stage event – he was only beaten on two of the gravel stages – to finish just over a minute ahead of Rangiora’s Matt and Nicole Summerfield (another brother and sister crew) driving a Subaru Impreza WRX.
Auckland’s Dylan Turner (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) completed the podium just 2.5secs behind the Summerfield siblings while the Skoda Fabia driver Glenn Inkster (Auckland) fought back after a third stage time loss with an engine misfire to finish 7.3secs further back in fourth place.
Hawkeswood was fifth and Mt Maunganui’s David Holder (Lancer Evo8) – who had secured the national title at the penultimate round – completed the top six.
The championship interest at the final round centred on the chase for runner-up honours. That was thrown further open when second placed Emma Gilmour (Dunedin) was forced to withdraw her Suzuki Swift on the eve of the rally with engine problems.
Rotorua's Sloan Cox was in spectacular form to gain second place in the NZ Rally Championship. Photo / Colin Smith
After a day-long battle second place in the championship went to Rotorua’s Sloan Cox (Lancer Evo10) to compete a Bay of Plenty quinella in the 2016 championship.
Cox was seventh yesterday and completed the season one point ahead of Hawkeswood. Cox also managed to edge ahead of Te Aroha’s Lance Williams (Subaru Impreza R4) to clinch the NZ Junior (under-25) Championship by a two-point margin.
For 2015 champion Ben Hunt (Auckland) a frustrating title defence ended early with an electrical issue in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI while the other leading retirement - also with electrical problems - was Kaiapoi’s Marcus van Klink (Mazda RX7) who had already clinched the Historic class title.