Rookie championship mid-season update
While last week we touched on Gold Card competitors who have plenty of experience, this week we look at the newbies to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship as we highlight the Rookie championship.
Like the Gold Card and Junior championships, the Rookie championship scores points only on the opening day of any event, to allow for competitors in both the Challenge and Championship classes.
Four rookies lined up at Otago for the opening round of the season, a pair of H6 Subarus for James Macdonald and Nick Marston, the latter becoming the third family member to tackle the NZRC after father Leigh and brother Josh. They would be taking on a pair of Ford Escorts, the Historic spec car of Tim McIver and the Open 2WD car of West Australian Glenn Alcorn.
The competitive nature would be apparent right from the start, with Alcorn, Macdonald and McIver separated by just 5.1 seconds. Alcorn would be the first to strike issues, losing multiple minutes, while a wiring issue would drop Macdonald back in the end. That left McIver to finish off a solid run to take maximum points, while a fightback from Macdonald saw him overcome Marston by just 7.5 seconds for second. Alcorn would survive a character building day to put crucial points on the board, but had fired a warning shot to his rivals.
Damage on the second day at Otago meant McIver would skip the second round, while it was never on Marston’s radar. That left just Alcorn and Macdonald, giving both the chance to make a break on the chasing field.
Alcorn would make the strongest start while Macdonald suffered with tyre choice. Things would go from bad to worse for the Cantabrian, who would retire with a serious oil leak. No such issues for Alcorn, who would power into a commanding lead with victory, now 19 points clear of the chasing pack.
As the series returned to the Mainland for Timaru, Marston and McIver returned while Jared Parker joined the field in his Toyota Corolla, topping the field up to five.
Alcorn and Macdonald would swap the top spot early, a stunning top 10 outright stage time catapulted Alcorn to the top after stage three, while Marston put himself within touching distance of Macdonald. Alcorn’s rally would come to an end on stage five, giving his rivals the opportunity to claw back the points gap he had opened at Whangarei. Macdonald would power away for the win when Marston broke an axle, dropping to third behind McIver by day’s end, while Parker survived a misfire issue to come home in fourth.
With two rounds remaining, the best bet on the championship is wide open. Macdonald and McIver sit equal on a win and runner up finish each with 47 points, but Alcorn is just three points behind on 44. Marston still remains very much in the hunt with 40 points to his name. Parker sits fifth on 19.