Season best field heads to Coromandel
Next weekend’s penultimate round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, Mahindra Goldrush Rally Coromandel, is set to see the biggest NZRC field assembled in more than 10 years with 36 championship cars due to cross the start ramp on August 22.
Last year, the Whitianga-based event proved to be one of the most popular events with competitors and spectators alike and will run to a near identical format in 2015.
As championship leaders, Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn are top seeds in their Subaru Impreza and will be looking to avenge last year’s disappointment when a puncture cost them a chance of victory. Chasing them will be defending Goldrush NZRC round winners Phil Campbell/Venita Fabbro in their Mitsubishi Evo 9, with further competition within the top five coming from Lance Williams/Raymond Bennet (Subaru), Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfield (Subaru), while the classic Mazda RX-7 of Marcus van Klink/Dave Neill will take the final spot in the top five due to a consistent season that sees them sitting in fifth place in the championship standings.
Local hopes will sit with the home-built ‘MC2’ of Alex Kelsey/Mal Peden, who returns to the championship for his home event, who starts just in front of Andrew Hawkeswood/Jeff Cress (Mazda 2), Emma Gilmour/Anthony McLaughlin (Suzuki Swift Maxi), a returning David Holder/Jason Farmer (Mitsubishi Evo 8) with Dylan Turner/Malcolm Read in their Mitsubishi rounding out the top 10.
There will be stiff competition from outside the top ten seeds with a large contingent of Mitsubishis headed by Sloan Cox/Sarah Coatsworth and Graham Featherstone/Dave Devonport and also front running competitors in the Gull Rally Challenge lead by Darren Galbraith/Rocky Hudson, Kingsley & Waverley Jones and Todd Bawden, who returns to NZRC competition for the first time since 2006, partnered by Erin Kyle.
A dark horse amongst the field comes in the form of NZRC TV presenter Glenn Inkster along with Spencer Winn driving a Mitsubishi Evo 10, while there is large amounts of interest in the VW Polo to be debuted by Shannon Chambers/Campbell Ward. The pair will be chased by the Mitsubishi Evo 8 Proto of Clint Cunningham/Glenn Goldring, while the open four-wheel drive field will be completed by evergreens Dave Strong/Bruce McKenzie (Ford Fiesta) and Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen (Mitsubishi Evo 10).
Another quality Gull Rally Challenge field sees Galbraith, Jones and Bawden to face competition from the Mitsubishis of Richard Bateman/Sharisse Guckert, Tyler Radovan/Tony Kenrick, Jono Walker, Warwick Redfern/Ron Bartels, Jono Shapley/Kieran Anstis and Brynley Smith/Richard Allport. There will also be strong competition from Subaru powered competitors Hugh Spence/Tim Eddington and Simon Bell/Warwick Martin.
The two wheel drive battle will see Max Bayley team up with Lisa Hudson in their modern Ford Fiesta take on a classic field that not only boasts van Klink’s Mazda, but also Tony Gosling/Blair Read (Ford Escort) and Andy Martin/Matt Hayward (Mazda RX-3).
The two-wheel drive class in the Gull Rally Challenge also sees a quality entry with the Ford Escorts of Regan Ross/Nigel Ross, Anthony Jones/Noel Moloney and Jeff Judd all taking on the giant killing
Toyota Starlet of Justin Glavish/Michele Brunt and defending series champion Jeff Torkington/Rodney James in a Toyota MR2.
The record field will tackle nine special stages surrounding the Whitianga service park totalling 132km of gruelling special stages, including the infamous Tapu-Coroglen and 309 Roads.