Holder victorious at NZRC opener.
Tauranga’s David Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer have taken victory at the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship fuelled by Gull and driven by Dunlop. The pair powered their Hyundai AP4+ home ahead of Andrew Hawkeswood/Jeff Cress, with Rhys Gardner/Ally McKay home in third, both driving Mazda AP4+ cars.
Holder held the lead after the opening day but had a heart-stopping spin on the opening stage of day two, handing the lead to Gardner. However Gardner would surrender that lead on the very next stage, with just 16 seconds separating Holder in first and Hawkeswood in third.
Gardner would slip back to third when he dropped 40 seconds in the treacherous stage 11, the longest of the event at 47 kilometres, which allowed Hawkeswood into second. A looming podium threat from Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn (Skoda AP4+) failed along with their engine is stage 12.
Victory in the power stage, which offers bonus points to the top five competitors, saw Graham Featherstone and Dave Devenport claim fourth place while Sloan Cox and Sarah Coatsworth limped home to fifth with centre differential problems after earlier leading the leg two classification. The top ten for the round were rounded out by Historic class winners Regan Ross/Lisa Hudson, Dylan Turner/Malcolm Read, Ben Hunt/Tony Rawstorn, Dave Strong/Bruce McKenzie and John Silcock/Richard Atkinson.
The NZRC two-wheel drive class saw Dylan Thomson and Amy Hudson maintain their overnight lead from Chris McLean and Sarah Brennan. Third place went to a recovering Max Tregilgas and Glenn Goldring, who suffered from electrical problems on day one, but were promoted to the podium when Robbie and Amy Stokes retired after stage nine with mechanical gremlins.
Open two-wheel drive went the way of Ford Escort driver Anthony Jones and Tanya Gwynne after a largely trouble free run. They headed home Jack and Brenda Williamson’s Suzuki Swift after overnight second place holders Jeff Ward and Murray O’Neill retired with computer failure.
The Historic class went the way of Ross in his Ford Escort RS1800, who fell just 10 seconds short of overall victory in the Otago Classic Rally. John Silcock/Richard Atkinson (Mazda RX-7) were second with Tony Gosling/Blair Read (Ford Escort RS1800) rounding out the podium after an eventful day.
By virtue of his rally win, Holder now holds an eight point championship lead over Hawkeswood, with Featherstone’s power stage win enough to elevate him to third in the points standings over Gardner, while Cox rounds out the top five.
The teams now face a race against time to prepare for round two, the International Rally of Whangarei, on April 28-30.
The New Zealand Rally Championship is bought to you by the team at Rally New Zealand with the support of title sponsor Brian Green Property Group as well as official fuel supplier Gull NZ and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Holder/Farmer 2hrs 48:38.0
Photo credits: Geoff Ridder
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