From the Service Park – pre-season edition

This edition of From the Service Park starts on a serious note. Everyone in the rallying community needs to think about what they post on social media, in comments sections or in Facebook groups.
These pages are monitored by organisers, sponsors, MotorSport New Zealand, mainstream media and fans so every single message posted has the ability to open up a can of worms.
They are not the place to have a rant about something you don’t like. Pick up the phone and ring an organiser if you are unhappy with something. Chances are you will find out more info and will get an understanding as to why certain decisions are made.
Airing dirty laundry in public damages the sport and can cost us sponsorship. That hurts EVERYONE involved.
These are tough enough times without some grandstanding fool trying to get a response by having a whinge on social media.
MotorSport NZ social media policy prohibits any posting that can bring the sport into disrepute and there have been a few over the past few months that could easily have landed individuals in hot water.
I promise if I see this kind of rubbish, I will call you out on it.

Sad times
It has also been a very tough time for the sport with some popular members of the rallying community passing away recently.
Our thoughts are with Jason Byrne and his family after wife Dee lost her battle with cancer recently. Like Jason, Dee was a popular figure around the rallying scene and her smiling face and warm personality will be dearly missed.
We also mourn the passing of Jarrod Tapper and Peter Davidson, who were much loved people within our rallying family and pass on our sympathy to their loved ones.

Bryn Smith on road to full health
It was great to see Brynley Smith’s smiling face on BB and Budgie’s Thursday Night Recce a couple of weeks ago. The popular Smith suffered a massive heart attack over the Christmas-New Year period and underwent a double bypass.
He then got a bad infection, which hospitalised him for a month.
Thankfully, he has come through the ordeal and is on the road to recovery and is even hoping he may be able to get back behind the wheel of his beautiful 50ONE50 Mitsubishi EVO by the end of the year.

New Zealand is the place to be
Despite the restrictions on international travel there appears to be a significant amount of overseas interest in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.
I’m hearing multiple international teams are looking at campaigning in New Zealand in the second half of the season.
One international team is looking at running a very talented local driver while at least one international star is also in the mix to feature.
Watch this space.

He’s back (again)
Which retired co-driver has somehow managed to land co-driving gigs in all but one round of this year’s championship?
It is time for him to acknowledge that he is actually an addict and can’t give the sport up.
Formerly he was one of the best going around but questions now linger about whether he’s even the best co-driver in his family now.

Big time comeback likely
Which former leading driver is looking likely for a major comeback in 2021? The driver in question has not been a regular competitor in NZRC for a number of seasons but has caught the bug once again and is looking at running an R5 car.
He should be an instant contender, so long as he keeps the car on the road.
On a side note, this would make five confirmed R5 cars around the country – Kingsley Jones (Skoda), Raana Horan (Skoda), Regan Ross (Ford) and Neil Allport (Ford) have the others.

Cat 2 class one for the ages
The FIA Group N 2WD battle in 2021 is going to be one to watch with an all-star line-up of drivers set to take part.
Dylan Thomson returns to his 2WD roots this year while some very talented youngsters are tackling the full championship including Bryn Jones, Jordan Grant, Harri Judd and Jackson Clendon.
We also await news around what reigning champion Mike Sheehan is doing.

There was a big contingent of NZRC competitors in the Pukekohe Car Club-run Bothwell Loop rally sprint and a number went on to party like it was an NZRC event.
My spies saw some on the Auckland Waterfront at 2am on Monday morning.

Last two champs making step up
The last two winners of the Category 5 championship (previously known as the Gull Rally Challenge) will compete in the top class in 2021.
Grant Blackberry, who won the 2018 championship, and reigning champion Matt Adams will both compete in cat 1 this year.

Thursday night show to become a feature of 2021
Hopefully by now many of you will have seen an episode of BB and Budgie’s Thursday Night Recce. It will become a regular feature of 2021 with the hosts to be joined by guests throughout the season.
In an exciting move, the show will be broadcast live on event from yet-to-be-determined locations, which may prove to be trouble given the pair’s history of Thursday night behaviour at rallies.

Some will do literally anything to get ahead
Bryn Jones is a talented young driver that will be one to watch in 2021. He has high ambitions however and was recently considering starting an onlyfans page (as made famous by former Supercars driver Renee Gracie) to fund his rallying.
We have our doubts whether the concept would work for someone like Bryn. He might have to start naked and get paid to put clothes back on.

Testing trouble
Which leading driver had a wee mishap in testing recently?
These things can happen when you test on the edge.
The car will be fixed by Otago and the driver is more than a championship dark horse this season. In fact, he could be in the mix come the final round.

All three Force Motorsport cars to run
For the first time since South Canterbury 2018 we are likely to see all three Force Motorsport Mazda AP4 cars in action this season.
I’m hearing a talented Auckland-based driver has agreed to buy one of the Hawkeswood cars and will likely run the car mid-way through the championship.
The driver in question has shown impressive speed in other categories and will be worth keeping an eye on once he makes the step up.

Do you speak English?
Asking for a friend – is it a bacon and egg pie or an egg and bacon pie?
Apparently this topic became quite the debate at the Bothwell Loop rally sprint over the weekend (don’t ask!).
Anyone with a basic grasp of English knows it is a bacon and egg pie but apparently some individuals with the surnames Jones, Ramsay and Bartels thought there was a need to debate it.
Maybe at Otago they could work out if the chicken or the egg came first?


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