Hawkeswood shows new car’s potential at Otago
The long awaited debut of Andrew Hawkeswood’s Mazda 2 Maxi car in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ has seen the Auckland driver come away with a close fought fourth place finish.
Hawkeswood and co-driver Rob Ryan showed the new car’s potential on the very first stage, setting the fourth fastest time despite suffering a puncture. A spin in stage two and a misfire from stage three hampered the pair but the Mazda moved back into the top five on the final gravel stage of the day. Unfortunately a spectacular display of car control on the traditional tarmac super special stage meant Hawkeswood would drop to sixth overnight by a mere three tenths of a second.
With the misfire traced to the car not holding enough engine temperature, the team were able to make a temporary modification and Hawkeswood set a string of top five stage times, despite the modification to keep the temperature up ironically causing the car to overheat in the tighter Terrace Range stage through the Berwick Forest.
Despite the overheating, Hawkeswood entered the final service in a remarkable third place with three stages remaining. But a more severe misfire saw the Aucklander slip to fourth in the first stage after the break and with roadside repairs making him late to the next stage, also picked up a 30 second penalty.
Fourth fastest on the penultimate stage was backed up with third fastest on the final stage of the event, but in the end the penalty was too much to overcome and Hawkeswood would have to settle for fourth place, 16.1 seconds away from a podium finish on debut.
“In some ways it’s a little disappointing for me, there were a few spins and with the misfire we could have been further up the field,” said Hawkeswood.“But by the same token there is plenty of potential in the car and with a bit more work before Canterbury I’m sure that we can be closer to the pace.”
Hawkeswood and his team now turn their attention to the next round of the NZRC, Rally Canterbury, on June 1