From the Service Park – Daybreaker Rally

Our first visit back to the Manawatu was a big success and the NZRC team was suitably impressed with Feilding as a host town.

The lovely little rural town proved a great spot, with plenty of friendly locals and big interest in a slick ceremonial opening.

A job well done

A shout out to T-Mac, Paul Fallon and their hardworking team for a stellar job putting the event together.

At short notice, they stepped up to the mark and helped the championship out.

While I’m sure they will refine things even more next year, there was an awful lot to like about the event first time up and everyone is excited about what year two looks like.


Sean Hegarty isn’t competing in the championship this year but he very nearly ruined any chance of competing at all after his Subaru nearly fell off the trailer on the way to the rally.

The popular Scotsman was lucky it managed to catch and remain on deck before they were able to rectify the situation.

Not quite driving an 8 inch nail with a tack hammer

Jack Smith blew the NZRC sticker budget on Friday as he couldn’t put one on straight.

It also didn’t help his audience (the large Paddon Rally Sport team) sympathise with him as he used a heat gun to apply them, powered with the biggest generator you’ve ever seen.

Shit talk with Jack Hawkeswood

Jack Hawkeswood, or Kenny to his mates,  missed competing over the weekend after his four wheel gymnastics routine at home a couple of weeks back.

It was great to see him out helping over the weekend delivering portaloos – has there ever been a person more suited to a role than Jack literally carrying shit around?

He managed to only create the one vortex but was spotted with a trail of toilet paper the size of an industrial roll out the back at one point.

A Tai-hape ending or not?

It just wouldn’t be a From the Service Park without a mention of old mate Dildo Baggins himself.

Dylan Turner wasn’t competing at Daybreaker but was there supporting SVG in his Audi and was good enough to jump on a livestream too.

But his trip down was an eye opener I’m told. My spies tell me he had an indiscretion at Taihape that had his passenger in hysterics. You’ll need to ask him for details.

Air Manawatu

Jordan Grant and Glenn Goldring had a massive off on stage four (the onboard is scary – think Thelma and Louise) but thankfully both were able to walk away unhurt in show of how safe our cars are.

It was so bad that the crash started in the Manawatu and after flying over a massive drop the car ended up in Hawke’s Bay.

The chances of seeing the talented youngster back anytime soon is remote sadly. 

The wrong place for a blooper

It was a tough weekend for some of the championship’s best up-and-comers. With Grant crashing and Jackson Clendon’s drive shaft issue, Dylan Thomson looked like he’d cruise to victory in the NZRC 2WD class.

That was until he made an uncharacteristic mistake and slid off into the kitty litter right in front of the main spectator viewing at Manfeild. 

As he and co-driver Baden Thomson tried to find a way to get the car out, they weren’t helped by Tim Smith heckling them from the grandstand.

The irony of trying to spend all day attempting to stay on the gravel…

(Not) keeping up with the Jones’s 

It was a great weekend for the Jones family – Anthony made a successful return to the Historic 2WD class by taking victory while son Bryn got a well deserved break-through win in NZRC 2WD.

Following on from Anthony and daughter Zoe being the first parent-child combination to win a round, the history books now show Anthony and Bryn as the first parent-child combo to each win their class at the same rally.

Austin Powers impression

For a bloke that is quick to critique others’ driving skills, Blair Bartels just out-did Dylan Thomson for embarrassing move of the weekend.

Bartels, in front of the Volt TV crew, marshals and spectators at SS3 made a 25-point turn that would have made Austin Powers look lame.

In the wars

Dan Haines was struggling before the start line as he battled a torn calf running up the stairs at home in the week leading into the rally.

To add insult to injury (literally!) he got sprayed in the face with champagne on the podium and needed a guide dog to get around after it got in his eyes.

Rooter skips on his bill

Regan Ross was in fine form on Thursday night by the time the NZRC team arrived for dinner at Lone Star. 

But after eating his meal and throwing back a few jars he departed in a hurry, promising to pay his share of the bill later.

With that in mind, the team opted to go back to Lone Star for the next two nights as well so the bill might have blown out a bit Rooter.

Worst still is that the small party that evening contained National party leader and likely incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon (according to eye witness accounts).

Though his preaching to raise the size of KFC family buckets suggests he may have been an impersonator.

Public Service Announcement

Does anyone have a four door Escort shell lying around?

Asking for a friend.

Always look your best

It was great having Dazza G (Darren Galbraith) back with the NZRC Live team for the first time this year.

He’s missed the earlier events while either competing or due to his annual child birth absence but he made an immediate impression.

While the Uber to dinner was sitting outside, the impeccably presented detective needed a moment to dash back inside to iron his shirt.

I wouldn’t have thought sharing a table with Bartels and Budge would have required number ones.

2024 calendar not far away

There is plenty of speculation around about the 2024 calendar – and I can give you some updates.

The schedule is nearly locked in place so expect an announcement shortly.

I’m hearing we’ll be starting with the South Island events before moving north for the duration and expect at least one event coming back for the first time in many years.


About The Author


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 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill