Summerfield takes leg one advantage amongst Whangarei carnage

Matt & Nicole Summerfield | img Geoff Ridder

Rangiora brother and sister duo Matt and Nicole Summerfield (Subaru Impreza) have come out on top of an action packed opening leg of the International Rally of Whangarei, round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship powered by Gull and driven by Dunlop. The pair survived horrific weather conditions that played havoc with teams and saw 20 of the 45 starters fail to make the finish.

Rotorua’s Sloan Cox and Sarah Coatsworth (Mitsubishi Evo 10) took the early advantage on last night’s two super special stages around Pohe Island, however it was defending champion David Holder with co-driver Jason Farmer (Hyundai i20 AP4+) that set the early pace on the daylight stages with two stage wins from three propelling them to the lead, only to fall back when power steering problems struck in special stage six.

Dylan Turner & Malcolm Read | img Geoff Ridder

That left Summerfield to take the lead by virtue of a power stage win in SS6, before Cox reclaimed the lead back in SS7. The lead then switched  back to Summerfield in SS9 after Cox struck turbo charger problems, before then falling off the road in SS10. Holder also retired on the way back from the day’s final stage with cambelt failure, which allowed stage winner Dylan Turner along with Malcolm Read in their brand new Audi S1 AP4 car into second place after a consistent day, while Darren Galbraith and Rocky Hudson (Mitsubishi Evo 8) set a consistent pace to come home in third.

Darren Galbraith & Rocky Hudson | img Geoff Ridder

The top ten was rounded out by Rhys Gardner/Phil Hall (Mazda 2), Job Quantock/Matt Hayward (Mitsubishi Evo 7), Graham Featherstone/Dave Devenport (Mitsubishi Evo 7), Dave Strong/Bruce McKenzie (Ford Fiesta S2000), Warwick Redfern/Ron Bartels (Mitsubishi Evo 8), Adam Bligh/Ric Chalmers (Mitsubishi Evo 6) and Brian Green/Fleur Pedersen (Mitsubishi Mirage).

Trouble struck many other fancied favourites including Andrew Hawkeswood (Transmission), Emma Gilmour (Suspension damage), Glenn Inkster (Alternator failure) and Greg Murphy (Off Road).

Warwick Redfern & Ron Bartels | img Geoff Ridder

The Gull Rally Challenge, contested only over the first day, saw Warwick Redfern/Ron Bartels take victory in a battle of attrition. Early pace setter Matt Jensen left the road in special stage six, handing the lead to Adam Bligh/Ric Chalmers, who slipped to second with mechanical issues late in the day. Matt and Karl Adams came home third in their Mitsubishi VR4 to also take victory in the Group A Challenge ahead of Richard Rau/Kane Mallasch in their Mazda 323.

The two-wheel drive Challenge went the way of Wellington debutants Chris Gracie and Vivian Eden (Honda Civc), heading home Dan Alexander/Richard Burnett (Toyota Starlet) and local driver Doug Adnitt/Tony Mabbett (BMW Ti Compact).

Open two-wheel drive saw just one finisher with Jack and Brenda Williamson leading the class in their Suzuki Swift, while the NZRC two-wheel drive class went the way of Max Tregilgas/Glenn Goldring over Dylan Thomson/Amy Hudson, both in Ford Fiesta’s. The classic class saw Tony Gosling and Blair Read (Ford Escort RS1800) take a commanding lead over John Silcock/Richard Atkinson (Mazda RX-7) with third place being held down by the Ford Escort RS1800 of Paul Fraser/Chris Davison.

Tony Gosling & Blair Read | img Geoff Ridder

The action continues tomorrow with a further six special stages before the ceremonial finish from 3pm.

Photo credit Geoff Ridder/Kate Ridder (check file name please)


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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