From the Service Park – Rally New Zealand
Goldie on the mend
We start off this From the Service Park edition with a quick shout out to co-driver Glenn Goldring, who is recovering after sustaining an injury during the weekend.
Goldring suffered a compression fracture to his lower spine among other bumps and bruises in an incident when he and driver Jordan Grant left the road on Saturday.
He’s a regular reader of this column and we wish him all the best in his recovery and are glad to hear he is all OK.
No fines for locals
A big congratulations to the 13 internationally entered teams that avoided any penalties from the FIA over the weekend.
There was a bit of concern that the local competitors would be caught out by new or different rules set by the sport’s elite, but they came through with flying colours.
Highs, lows and a dip for Ben Hunt
It was an up and down weekend for two-time national champ Ben Hunt. After battling a lack of power in his Skoda New Zealand Fabia R5 throughout the opening leg, the talented Hunt had to really push just to keep up a competitive pace.
He then made a rare mistake late in the day and crashed out of point scoring contention.
Hunt looked better the rest of the weekend, but my spies tell me he took a late night swim in the Waitemata Harbour to relax after the event.
Spanish dancing for Kalle
Kalle Rovanpera barely put a foot wrong the entire weekend and was crowned world champion after winning Repco Rally New Zealand and taking maximum points from the power stage.
But what was going on with his celebratory antics? His dance moves looked suspiciously like the choreography from the dreadfully catchy Ketchup Song from a few years back.
Kalle would have only been two when that song was released but there are some things you just can’t erase from memory.
Hayden lends a hand
In a feel-good moment how about a hat tip to Kiwi ace Hayden Paddon for his good Samaritan act on Thursday.
Indonesian crew of Muhammad Variza and Anthony Adikusumo were unable to make their own notes after a mix up with flights. Paddon came to their aid by offering them the use of his in-car footage so they could make their own notes without having done recce.
New cars on the way
Which young and-and-coming stars will be in new cars next season? We are hearing that a handful of bright youngsters have got their hands on or are in the process of acquiring some new wagons for 2023.
One to keep an eye on in particular will be a championship winner from this season, making a step up in class.
Co-driving moment 1
This column has been waiting years to finally have a lick at Grey Roots spokesman, NZRC funny man and co-driving Godfather Rob Scott.
Sitting alongside the equally experienced Dave Strong for the weekend, you would think that getting the number of trips around the Auckland Domain Super Special would be something they should have well covered.
It came as a surprise to spectators and commentators to see Strong come back around for an extra lap of the stage but it was even more of a shock for the following competitor Dan Haines, who came flying down to the first corner with Strong’s headlights charging full noise towards them!
Co-driving moment 2
So the NZRC live team thought they would be well looked after from a navigational standpoint over the weekend with 2010 Historic co-driver champion Darren Galbraith with the maps.
But it all went tits-up on the opening morning when he instructed Blair Bartels to take SH1 towards Cambridge as opposed to the westerly direction of Raglan.
Co-driving moment 3
Carl Fenn does a great job as NZRC coordinator, Zero Car boss and this columnist’s personal chauffeur on most rally weekends but even the best make cock ups now and then and luckily, we were on hand for this one.
Right towards the end of the first pass through the Puhoi stage, Fenn and driver Bryce Platt went past the spectator point but then there was the sound of a car locking up, followed by a reversal and finally a take off again. Turns out Fenn’s notes led Platt up an escape route much to the delight of our crew 100m down the road!
Speaking whoopsie moments – young Zeal Jones was one of the real stars of Repco Rally New Zealand as he continues his fast rise into the sport.
But the talented youngster was spotted taking off on a touring stage with his gloves sailing off the roof of his car.
Kingsley goes one better
How about Uncle Kingsley though, who has spent the entire 2022 season driving into culverts.
After weeks of having the piss taken about his exploits leading into Rally New Zealand, Kingsley decided to one-better himself by driving into a full fledged river.
Thankfully both he and Waverley were all ok and the car is able to be repaired.
We also hear that there is a handshake deal that could see the next generation Jones take over the wheel of the Skoda in the coming year or two.
2023 calendar to take shape
Finally, with 2022 done and dusted the attention will start to look ahead to next season and the first big question is – what will the calendar look like?
If we revert to a six-round calendar as was the case pre-COVID and as it was this year (with Rally New Zealand serving as two separate events) there will be a visit to somewhere we haven’t been for some time.
Coromandel, Canterbury, Waitomo and Bay of Plenty would all have to be contenders to return – Coromandel, Canterbury and Waitomo for the first time since 2019 while we have to go back further for a round in the Bay of Plenty, although it was set to return last year before a COVID lockdown.