Group A Rally Challenge mid-season update

The Group A Rally Challenge is a class specific to 4WD cars built prior to the end of 1995, to celebrate an exciting era of the sport before the advent of the world rally car.

For the 2023 season, cars complying with the Mainland Rally Series H6 class of Subaru Impreza’s have also been added to the eligible car list.

And so it was that many competitors would take up the H6 opportunity, with five of them topping the standings heading into the final two rounds of the championship.

Tim Smith got his championship off to a perfect start by taking the win at the season-opening round at the Otago Rally, leading home veteran Southland campaigner Paul Cross and James Macdonald.

Nick Marston and Amy Keighley both scored well in Otago meaning just 11 points separated the five drivers after the opening event.

Four of the five skipped the second round in Whangarei meaning Hazely Windelborn would be in a strong competition with James Macdonald, both in a strong position to secure a huge haul of points just by finishing.

But the Northland driver had a drama-filled rally, picking up just five power stage points through Helena Bay for his weekend’s work, better than Macdonald who retired in the stage with a major oil leak.

Smith produced a brilliant drive to secure a class win at South Canterbury and a terrific overall result, although Macdonald managed to edge him in the power stage to claim the maximum five bonus points.

Cross and Macdonald each took 25 points away from the third round, compared to Smith’s 29, while Marston and Keighley came home fourth and fifth respectively to remain well in contention with two rounds to go.

Smith has control at present on 59 points with Cross on 50 and Macdonald 49. Marston has 40 points while Keighley has 38 – all five drivers more than capable of winning the championship with rounds to go in the Manawatu (Daybreaker) and Bay of Plenty.


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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