From the Service Park – Rally Whangarei
It was another highly dramatic but entertaining weekend at the International Rally of Whangarei. The Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship live team were out and about and bring you these rumours and highlights from the weekend.
Dylan “Dingo” Thomson
He celebrated the arrival of the new car in style by claiming a class win in NZRC 2WD in his new Ford Fiesta Rally4 but is the Cantabrian changing his country allegiance?
Thomson sported Australian flags next to both his and co-driver Bayden Thomson’s names on the side of his new car over the weekend.
Helpful piece of advice for you Dylan – the Kiwi flag has only four stars!
Jones overcomes illness to give his car a perfect debut
Bryn Jones overcame the odds to debut his new car at Whangarei having been sick in the lead-up to the event.
He was so sick before the event started that father Anthony had to step in and help write notes for him in recce and his family gave him a sedative to help him sleep.
We are still trying to confirm if it was in suppository form but it made his opening stage class win all the more remarkable.
Can I have your autograph?
While everyone involved in the LJ Hooker/Giltrap Audi team were gutted after a rogue computer failure in the AP4 car saw Shane van Gisbergen fail to start SS1 on Saturday there was one person at least a little excited.
Car owner Dylan Turner got to live out a massive fan-boy moment when he took SVG out spectating in the afternoon.
There are rumours that his car’s computer shut down when the car hit every apex on the way to the opening stage, something the computer had never seen before.
Distraction led to SVG moment
A check engine warning at the worst possible moment led to Van Gisbergen’s demise on day two.
The Supercars star showed great pace early on in the day but was caught out when he ripped a wheel off the LJ Hooker/Giltrap Audi on the first pass through Waipu Caves.
The whisper is the warning caught his attention and he made a slight mistake as a result that proved costly.
The SVG effect
While it was a disappointing weekend for Van Gisbergen the benefits to the championship and to the sport in having his presence felt were on display over the weekend.
Newstalk ZB ran hourly stories on the rally all day Saturday while Stuff.co.nz ran a full story, with Van Gisbergen’s involvement the likely reason.
It was great to SVG enjoying himself as well and he seems to have made himself at home, interacting with other drivers.
We look forward to seeing more of him at future rounds this season.
The comforts of home
The writer of this column is a man that enjoys the comforts of home and so now a few years into the routine of staying at the same hotel as a large majority of the field and enjoying a post dinner drink (or more) at the hotel bar he’s learned a few lessons.
Hence turning up on multiple evenings in track pants and slippers for a night cap.
The photo evidence above shows the heightened levels of comfort, much to the jealousy of those looking on.
It was certainly an upgrade on what Paddon Rallysport media man Jack Smith was sporting over the weekend.
Smith broke his foot when he ran out of talent recently while riding an offroad bike and was on crutches and in a cast. Someone thought it would be a good idea to paint his toe nails and write his name on his foot – see the accompanying photo. At least he kept it to the team colours.
The good Samaritan award goes to former NZRC competitor Steve Pound, who saw former national champion Brian Stokes on his way to Whangarei and struggling to find accommodation.
Pound offered up some spare space at his place and Stokes got to avoid having to stay in a backpackers after getting some more useless advice from one Dylan Turner.
Bartels scenic tours
Blair Bartels had the NZRC live team in stitches on Friday morning as he took them on a wild goose chase around downtown Whangarei.
After a nice breakfast in the town basin, Bartels had to drive the crew to the service park to run some errands but somehow managed to head in the wrong direction.
Instead of listening to those looking at maps on their phones or even attempting to look at a map himself, Bartels insisted he knew where he was going.
After at least six wrong turns, a couple of three-point turns and at least one 360, Bartels got the team to service park in time for lunch.
Spare a thought
There were a lot of hard luck stories over the weekend but you have to feel for a few competitors in particular.
Clint Cunningham had demonstrated good speed and a smart approach to be inside the top six when he crashed on the first past through Waipu Caves.
Robbie Stokes went out on the first stage thanks to an engine failure while John Silcock saw his chances of lifting the Motogard Trophy disappear with fuel line issues that they just could not fix.
Cheers to you
Finally, a big thanks to those that wished me a happy birthday on Saturday. A special mention to Rocky Hudson for his sugar (see photo) and to Kingsley Jones and the other spectators at the junction behind the Towai Tavern at the railway corner on SS5 for singing happy birthday upon my arrival.