Summerfields in race against time for Otago Rally
New Zealand’s fastest brother and sister, Matt and Nicole Summerfield, are in a race against time to make it to the start line of round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ, the Drivesouth Rally Otago, after a major mechanical failure just two days before the start of the event.
The pair were looking forward to continuing the best start of their careers to the NZRC, where they took second place at the opening round, Rally Whangarei, just four weeks ago, but when 22-year old Matt took the car for one last run up the road before loading it on the trailer, a major engine failure struck the Castrol Edge Subaru, leaving the team in doubt of making the start line as they rush to prepare their older 2.5 litre motor.
If the team cannot make the start, it will be a cruel blow. Not only did the team take second place in Whangarei, they also took second place in the junior championship that they are aiming to win this season and although regulations allow each team to drop a round, to use that lifeline so early puts plenty of pressure on.
“I was running it up the road and it just went bang. A valve broke and by the time it made its way through the engine, it just destroyed the whole lot,” says Summerfield. “The guys are working their butts off while we do recce and hopefully we will have a car tomorrow afternoon to start the event with. It will certainly be touch and go.”
Rally Otago gets underway with a ceremonial start in The Octagon from 5pm on Friday. Special stage action gets underway the following day around the Lawrence area including the monster 50km Manuka Hill before returning to Dunedin for the iconic tarmac super special stage at 3pm. Day two sees the more traditional Otago stages around the Lake Waihola and after a total of 283km, crews will return to the ceremonial finish at the Dunedin Railway station from 3pm on Sunday.
Matt Summerfield Rallisport would like to acknowledge their sponsors, without whom their 2014 campaign would not be possible: Castrol Edge, Autotech Services, NAC Insurance, North Canterbury Energy Centre, The Gearbox Company, Chatterton Builders and Gull Fuels.