5 minutes with Matt Summerfield….

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The Canterbury team celebrate finishing second at Rally Whangarei. Photo: Euan Cameron

Canterbury driver Matt Summerfield has had a great start to the 2014 championship and is second in the points standings after finishing second overall at the opening round VINZ Rally Whangarei. This was Matt and co-driver (and sister) Nicole’s best NZRC result to date and a great reward for the small family team from Rangiora.

Matt at only 22 years of age is no stranger to success in the NZRC. During his rallying apprenticeship he claimed the 2009 & 10 Open 2WD championship in a Skoda Fabia, and the 2012 Open 4WD title in the Subaru Impreza he currently runs. Since jumping into the Subaru Matt has steadily increased his pace at each event and now heads to round two of the championship in Otago as a genuine front runner in the championship. We caught up with Matt ahead of the Drivesouth Rally Otago to discuss his round one performance, a special cause the team are supporting this year and rallying with his sister.

 

2nd at Whangarei is your best NZRC finish, but you had to work for it on day 2 to stay ahead of Chris West and then get ahead of Lance Williams. Tell us what that second day was like for you in the car given that task?

I looked forward to the challenge against those other guys. We knew on Saturday night what we had to do to get the second placing. It was really enjoyable pushing the car to its limit over Sundays stages. Our rally was without major drama however we suffered hugely with the dust from catching cars on both days and tyre wear was a huge factor.

The championship now heads to the South Island for two events, what are your expectations for the next round at Otago?

Firstly our aim is to finish to collect points for the overall championship but a top 5 finish would be great. The roads down there are incredibly fast so speed is going to play a big role.

And then looking ahead to your home event at Canterbury, a new format with two night stages, does that give you young guys an advantage over the older boys?

Nah I don’t think so. They have probably done a lot more rallying in the dark than we have. But we are younger so maybe we can see a bit better haha!

Your supporting the Cystic Fibrosis charity this year which we understand is close to your teams heart, tell us about that?

One of our long time sponsors and friend’s daughter died from Cystic Fibrosis early this year. She was such a bubbly and positive girl and we were very sad to hear she had passed at only 21. Nicole and I decided that we would try and raise some funds and awareness for the cause. At the Rally of Whangarei we raised $600 from raffle tickets. It was great to see people getting behind the cause – we were very overwhelmed. We also met 2 families with family members suffering from Cystic Fibrosis – it was great to talk with them and involve them in our team and take their minds of reality for just 1 day.

We see your co-driver & sister Nicole walking around the service park with headphones in, what is she listening too?

Nicole has a bit of a ritual when she is rallying. Ever since Day Breaker Rally last year she has listened to John Kennards in-car the morning of the rally. It seems to work for her and we are really focused on improving our notes so everything helps.

Who wins the family arguments in the car?

No one. We are all business once the flag drops. Being brother and sister we already have a close relationship so it’s great having so much trust and commitment in the car.

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The Canterbury pairing of Matt & Nicole Summerfield showed great pace at Whangarei, finishing second in the rally and second on the Powerstage. Photo: Euan Cameron.

       

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ABOUT THE NZRC

 
The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2019, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Otago.

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