5 to watch: Rally Canterbury
As the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ continues its southern adventure with night stages, cool weather forecasts and increasing competition, we take a look at 5 things to keep an eye on this weekend
1. The weather – The forecast for Saturday night in Christchurch is for clear but -2°C and while the temperature shouldn’t have dropped that far in town by the time the first car fires into action, the rally is moving north into the Okuku Forest and up high into the mountains north west of Rangiora, so it is likely that the mercury will be struggling to register on the thermometer and black ice could be a real threat.
2. Andrew Hawkeswood – If there is black ice or even snow, keep an eye of New Zealand’s most spectacular rally driver, and not because we are picking he might overcook it. Last time there was black ice and snow in an NZRC event was back at Rally Southland in 2004 and Hawkeswood won the event, something he puts down to ‘just backing it in and standing on it’.
3. Top five road order draw – The top five will have several factors to consider when deciding where they want to run on the road. While a bit of snow may turn the roads in the forestry slushy and running first on the road may be advantageous, that will turn on Sunday when the rally hits the public roads and sweeping the loose gravel could cost time. Expect one of the most shaken up road order draws we have seen.
4. Local drivers and their Subarus – Three Canterbury drivers, Matt Summerfield, Matt Jansen and Richard Baddock, are all contenders for a podium finish and with this their home event all will be chasing local honours (and even better). Both Summerfield and Jansen have recorded podium finishes on the opening round of their respective NZRC campaigns so far while Baddock, driving his older Subaru, shot himself into the spotlight at this event last year when he recorded a sensational fourth place. Is this weekend the time he could stand on the podium for the first time?
5. Jeff Torkington – Proving that consistency is the key, Torkington has recorded two wins from two starts in the Gull Rally Challenge 2WD category after making the trip to Dunedin. Another win this weekend will put one hand on the 2WD Challenge trophy for Torkington as the series returns to the North Island. The nimble Toyota MR2 could also prove very handy on icy or slippery roads…..