Campbell on the pace in 4WD debut
Tauranga’s Phil Campbell has made an impressive debut in The Roofing Store Mitsubishi Evo 9 at the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ over the weekend, where only a mechanical problem robbed him of an almost certain podium finish.
Campbell came into the event realistic in his expectations for a result in the new car, especially one down on power on his rivals, with a plan just to drive down the middle of the road and learn more by completing mileage.
After recording the ninth fastest time on the opening stage, a flat out blast, Campbell and co-driver Venita Fabbro recorded two top three stage times to sit third overall by the time crews returned to service and ahead of all the international visitors.
The afternoon saw a sixth fastest time on the repeat of stage one, but unfortunately on stage five the centre blew out of the clutch, forcing a gut wrenching retirement from third place.
The team worked hard to replace the clutch in The Roofing Store Evo IX and Campbell was able to rejoin the event for day two to try and salvage some bonus points from the weekend.
Another solid drive on day two saw Campbell set times inside the top five on each of the days six special stages, including an impressive second fastest on special stage 11, ensured a third place finish for leg two, just 25 seconds away from a leg win, and some much needed points for the championship campaign.
“There are plenty of positives to take from the weekend, but by the same token we are gutted with the retirement, it could have been so much better” said Campbell. “We stuck to the plan of doing our own thing and driving down the middle of the road. The encouraging thing is there is still plenty more to come from both the car and the driver.”
The Campbell Rallysport Team now turn their attention to round two of the NZRC, Rally Otago on May 10-11.