Lucky escape for Anderson
Christchurch based rally driver Hamish Anderson had a lucky escape at Rally Wairarapa on Saturday when his Toyota Levin slid into a ditch on the opening stage. He was only able to continue after spectators pulled his stricken car back onto the road.
Anderson and co-driver Sarah Brennan still managed to come home second in their class and hold on to the lead in the Open two-wheel drive category. The pair lost nearly 20 minutes stuck off the road and are thankful there were plenty of willing helpers close by.
“We had already caught and passed a [slower] car in the stage and came to a junction with a left then right instruction. I tried to hug the road but slipped into a deceptive ditch,” said Anderson.
“I tried to drive it out but hit a driveway that crossed the ditch pretty hard, and then we got stuck.”
Luckily there was a small group of spectators close by and they rushed to Anderson’s aid. After much pushing and pulling with a towrope they managed to get the rally car back on the road.
“We’re extremely grateful to them for pulling us out. One of the group was former national rally champion Joe McAndrew. I certainly made sure I bought him a beer afterwards!” added a delighted Anderson.
After getting back on the road, the pair battled minor issues to get to the finish line and secure more championship points to keep their title defense alive.
“The car took a big hit on the right-front side so it looked a bit average for the rest of the rally. We had to cable-tie in a headlight and didn’t have the front bumper on. We also lost the exhaust so that made it very noisy in the car and Sarah had a hard job shouting out the pacenotes for the rest of the rally. She had all but lost her voice by the end,” he said.
Under the championship rules for this season drivers are able to drop their worst performing round from the final points total and Anderson – who has scored in every round so far – was intending to miss the Coromandel based Rally New Zealand event and just contest the finale, the Manawatu Daybreaker Rally, in September.
“Thankfully we got to the finish [in Masterton] and still lead the series by 56 points. That means we can still miss the Coromandel event and will only need to gain five more points at the final to win back-to-back titles,” Anderson added.
The class win went to Brent Taylor in a new Subaru-powered Toyota 86.
“The Wairarapa roads suited Brent’s car better so we probably could not have beaten him on those roads. There was a lot of very tight, twisty sections and his more powerful car was much quicker at getting out of the slow corners.
“Getting a head start early in the season while Brent was still sorting his new car is what’s keep us in the hunt to retain the Open 2WD title. Our 1600cc car is not really a match against a 2-litre powered car but we don’t have to win [the class] again, just bag five more points.”
The Anderson rally team are supported by Goodyear, Rally Tyres NZ Ltd, Mammoth Web, Autolign, Dunlop, P J Repairs, Beaurepaires and Inflatablez: The Cube Event Tent, Clearwater Painting, Renovating and Decorating and Gull.
Open 2WD Championship points:
Hamish Anderson 129
Brent Taylor 73