Pre Rally Coromandel - August 2017
We are nearing the end of our mid-season break with the Rally of Coromandel coming up at the end of the month. It’s an unusual feeling having almost 3 months off from competing in the New Zealand Championship. It’s had a few major benefits for our team as we have been able to really push forward developments on our car. We have competed at a couple of events since my last blog and we have made some great gains at them. Here’s a quick catch up in case you have missed any of the action.
The last NZRC round was Rally Canterbury. This is an awesome event and this year it really did deliver some unique challenges that only the Canterbury region seems to throw at you. A lot of rain fell on the rally roads after we had finished our recce. The morning of racing we woke up to a slightly damp and overcast day. We unfortunately made a wrong call on tyre choice for the first loop. We just under estimated how slippery the roads would have become with all the rain and how cold the temperature was.
A quick change of rubber compound at service had us right up on the pace with the event leaders and we would set good split times.
Unfortunately, then brake issues affected a few stages but once back at service, the team reacted really quickly by putting spares onto the rear of the car bleeding the system up and giving us a great car to get back out on the stages. We encountered snow up on the northern stages and it was a good challenge to drive on such changeable conditions. We set the fastest stage time and had moved right up into 3rd place for the event.
The night stages, which had been a real target of mine, proved to be really spectacular. A brake line from the earlier trouble in the fords let go on the final stage making for some hairy moments in the dark. Ultimately, it was dumping fluid out which made its way onto the brake disks. We came over the finish line literally on fire, an amazing sight for the spectators but not easy on my heart hearing you’re on fire!! It was a great result for the team finishing 2nd place overall!
My next event was to compete in the Rally of the North. This was an opportunity too good to pass up. I partnered up with Jeff Cress for the event and took up an older group A spec Subaru that the team had been tiding up and getting rally really over the previous 8 months. Our championship car was in the process of being prepared for its next challenge. The roads
are something special and I hope to see more of them included in the International event next season. We had a good battle all day and stayed close to the top of the time sheets. Finishing 4th was a good debut for a new/old car and it really gave it a good shake down.
Our home Rally - Rally Nelson, it’s the first time being held in 6 years. This was an event not to miss! This was the first time I’ve had a real chance to give it a proper crack at winning the event out right. Last time a rally ran in Nelson it was my first year running the then newly formed Hunt Motorsport. The Nelson car club have done a great job at getting an event up and running again. As soon as the stage maps came out my whole team and all my supporters all went to work studying the maps and finding the locations all looking for the best spectating points. A nice compact tidy route and repeated roads made the event a dream to organise. We had great support from so many local businesses when starting our career in rallying. It was so good to have them out on stages and at the start line encouraging us in our own backyard.
The roads where in great condition, nice and easy to read. This club style event doesn’t run on pace notes and you drive it “blind.” It was so good to have Tony in the car, the confidence we have as a team helps without pace notes. Coming up to crests a quick chat “brake”, “flat”, “straight”, “left/right” helps you make that final decision and then drive according to that plan.
As a team we got fully behind the event and had two cars competing with the group A making the trip down for Richard Hunt to drive. The relaxed atmosphere for servicing and the ample time limits let the teams chat all day and swap stories, tales and misadventures from the previous stages.
We finished the event in 1st place winning by a margin of a minute giving our 2016 Subaru Sti its maiden win. To do it at a home event made it really special for the team. Richard and Craig came home 3rd in class. Another great result.
Looking forward, we will soon tackle the challenge in Coromandel on the 26th August. This year the event has been flipped backwards. All the stages are familiar and have been used in previous years and now it’s all in reverse. It brings a unique challenge of re-writing notes for all the same corners. It’s good to have the whole field even. We’re all seeing the roads for the first time in this direction!We’ll be involved in promotion work on Friday morning from 10am at Gull Whitianga service station. Pop down if you have a chance and come and say hi!