Rallying at full throttle in September
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There’s a busy September calendar for New Zealand rallying as the 2018 season nears its close.
The month has started with Christchurch driver Josh Marston clinching the Mainland Rally Championship on Saturday by winning the Hanmer Forest Rally.
Although he lost time with a turbo boost hose problem on the second stage, Marston was fastest on eight of the nine special stages in his Holden Barina AP4 and claimed the rally win by 30.8secs from Subaru Impreza driver Garet Thomas (Darfield).
It was Marston’s third maximum point score of the seven round Mainland series and he claimed the title. Christchurch driver Jeff Judd (Subaru Impreza) was fifth in Saturday’s rally and claimed runner-up honours in the Mainland Series two points ahead of Matt Summerfield (Rangiora) who had overheating issues with his Subaru at Hanmer.
The rallying focus now shifts north with gravel action in the Maramarua Forest this Sunday when the South Auckland Car Club hosts the final round of the ABC Pipefitters Northern Rallysprint Series.
The headquarters side of the forest provides an 8km venue for the series finale, which has seen five well-supported rounds at two Northland events as well as Pukekohe, Morrinsville and Pirongia venues.
Defending champion Graham Featherstone (Te Aroha) is the points leader in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7 after winning the first four rounds. Heading into the Maramarua finale, Featherstone is six points ahead of Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 drivers Warwick Redfern and Matt Jensen. Leading 2WD competitors Steve Goodare (Nissan Sunny) and Grant Liston (Honda Integra Type R) complete the top five.
Regional rallying will then head north with the Copthorne Bay of Islands Far North Rally set for Saturday, September 22.
The third round of the Top Half series is only the third gravel event on North Island roads this year. Hawke’s Bay driver Grant Blackberry (Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX) is the series leader after two rounds.
The planned route is eight special stages with the rally making a clockwise loop through the Far North region from a 7am start at Kawakawa via Towai, Kaikohe, Kaitaia and Kaeo before a 4.30pm finish at Waitangi’s Copthorne Bay of Islands Hotel.
There’s also South Island action the same weekend with the annual Ashley Forest Rallysprint.
The North Canterbury event on the 1.7km uphill-downhill course has an international entry, with Hayden Paddon campaigning his New Zealand rally Championship winning Hyundai i20 AP4 car in unrestricted specification and Australia-based Scotsman Alister McRae will appear in the ex-Possum Bourne Vantage Aluminium Subaru Impreza WRC 98.
Rotorua’s Sloan Cox, who is in the European Rallycross Academy Series, will return to local competition in his potent Mitsubishi Lancer Evo hillclimb special.