From the Service Park – Otago Rally

Otago offered up a brilliant start to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship as always.

The weather was perfect, there were some electrifying performances and a stack of content for our From the Service Park segment.

Not all heroes wear capes
We all know about Andrew Graves’ ability as both a co-driver and as a driver but little did we know he could also be an MMA fighter.
Graves leapt to the defence of a bouncer outside a bar in the Octagon during Friday night’s ceremonial start.
An intoxicated local started swinging away at the security man but Graves jumped in, tackling the offender to the ground and holding him until police arrived.
Don’t mess with people from Gore.

Who was to blame for Haggarty’s big moment?
One of the big talking points on Saturday was Sean Haggarty’s scary moment when his steering wheel came off over the big jump at the end of SS5.
It turns out the screws holding the wheel in place had come loose.
Backs up the theory that most crashes are caused by the loose nuts behind the wheel!

All a bit emotional
It was touching to see Simon Bell make it to the finish on Sunday in his Subaru Legacy.
Bell battled mechanical dramas all weekend and made the long trip down from Auckland last week with son George in tow.
The pair drove the car down, competed and drove it back, and the emotion got the better of him at the end of Kuri Bush.
He wasn’t the only one in tears at the end – Robbie Stokes choked up thinking about his grandmother, who passed away in the past few months and Sean Haggarty was pleased to get through a tough weekend alongside co-driving daughter Bella.

Blowing out the cobwebs
It has been a while since we went rallying and a few of our rally community showcased the rust that has built up over the off-season.
It started with Austen Jones, who forgot his overalls when turning up in Dunedin.

Blowing out the cobwebs 2
We’re wondering whether Dylan Turner is colourblind.
Turner was caught out on the first stage when he lifted off at the yellow finish boards and backed off before new co-driver Jeff Cress yelled at him to keep going.

Turner watch part 2
What is it with Turner and Otago? He left his good mate Simon Bell to take his Audi to scrutineering on Friday only for Bell to realise the car had no registration or Warrant of Fitness.
Bell had to rectify the issues before getting to scrutineering.

For good measure, more Turner
Finally, old mate Turner skipped out on paying his motel bill for the weekend.
Apparently there was no one in the office when he went to pay so he left poor old Blair Bartels to foot the bill.
Haven’t heard that one before.

In all fairness there was a slight rusty moment for the NZRC Live team at the end of SS1.
Having started to wrap up an end of stage interview with Kinglsey Jones in the left-hand drive Skoda, Budgie tripped over the stop boards at control as he tried to get around to the right-side of the car in time to interview Ari Pettigrew in right-hand drive Holden.
He stumbled all the way across to the other side much to the delight of the Holden Barina crew. We are looking for the in-car proof.

More R5s
Who are the two drivers currently in cat 1 that have new cars on the way?
One car is already in the country while the other is due to arrive next season.

Too much information
We all love Chrissport and it has become an integral part of a rally-watching experience.
It was quite disturbing to hear that the Chrissport updates however were being done by a shirt-less Chris Grant back home from his North Auckland home.

Past your bedtime
Which two NZRC personalities were mocked by local uni students on Saturday night when they went to check out the Castle St, street party?
One youngster was heard asking them if they were there to pick up their kids.

Bon voyage
Zoe Jones helped her dad Anthony to win the Historic 2WD championship last season, but the successful combination is set to end after South Canterbury.
Zoe is moving to Australia but is looking at ways to get back for Rally New Zealand.

Regular Dylan Thomson feature
Dylan Thomson is a favourite target of this column, and it was no surprise that a couple of stories from the weekend came to our attention.
Firstly he damaged his recce car on Thursday when he drove over the top of an island that he hadn’t seen.
Then he ignored the directions of new co-driver Bayden Thomson, over-riding him only to find out that was actually the way he needed to go.

Occupational over-use syndrome?
Jack Hawkeswood has this Tinder thing down pat. He set his Tinder gold account to Dunedin a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of this weekend. It is fair to say he had significant interest.
Perhaps that is why he had a broken gear stick by the end of the rally.

Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight
Then on Sunday night, while celebrating at the NZRC Live team’s motel the sneaky South Aucklander climbed through some windows to play practical jokes on us.
We’re currently working out some payback with the idea of a plane flying a message on the Sunday of the WRC over Jacks Ridge, seeming like the best idea so far.

Jones’ help from the heavens
Kingsley Jones slid off the road late on Saturday and found himself unable to get his car, which was undamaged, back on the road.
That was until he looked to the heavens and the answer presented itself to the Skoda driver.
It was almost as if Jesus himself appeared and helped him out of the pickle.

Gone in a flash
Jonty Brenssell proved super-fast over the weekend but it nearly all came unstuck when he had a “Mark Tapper” moment.
Apparently Brenssell noticed a woman on the side of the road lifting up her top as he went past.
Rumour has it Brenssell tried to convince co-driver Daph O’Rourke to go back for a second run through the stage.

Cat’s in the cradle
Don Brunt was towing Bryn Jones’ car home to the Waikato and was just out of Dunedin when he heard a noise from the back of the van.
Turns out the cat that had lived at the motel the team was staying at had jumped in and was a stowaway on the way north.

What’s weighing down Klinky?
Finally, after seeing how much Dylan Thomson smashed old mate Marcus van Klink at Kuri Bush over the weekend, we were wondering what led to the thrashing.
Could it be the fact Klinky is carrying an extra number on his windscreen this year that weighted him down?


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