Record entries for new look rally championship at season opener
This weekend’s opening round of the 2013 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship celebrates a number of milestones that begins with a 807.28km journey over roads with crests and blind brows during the 6 to 7 April Drivesouth Rally of Otago.
It will be the first of two visits to the South Island for the six
round series – and includes a record line up of entries vying for
championship honours. Divided in to three competition categories a total
of 24 have entered for the Super Rally supported by Auto Finance Direct
field. That includes former champions Chris West (Timaru) and Hayden
Paddon (Geraldine) along with defending and three-time champion Richard
The 20th consecutive time a round of the
championship will be contested over the Otago roads, another milestone
will be the introduction of a new generation car to the series – firstly
by local Emma Gilmour. The Dunedin based businesswoman has spent the
off season overseeing the construction of Suzuki Swift Maxi to the new
championship rules – and will have the first of three similar cars in
competition for her home event.
However it will be Mason leading
the field off in to the remote Otago reaches with the line-up
containing a number of returnees mixed with the rookies, including two
Australian based teams: Matt van Tuninen (Subaru, Super Rally) and
Stewart Reid (Ford, Historic Rally) – both from Brisbane.
eligible for overall Goldstar title contention are the seven in the BNT
Historic Rally Challenge category. Headed by defending champion Marcus
van Klink from Kaiapoi, he will again campaign a Mazda RX7 that once
ruled the rural roads.
Currently three are entered to the Gull
Rally Challenge – a short-form step in to the championship where teams
only compete for the Saturday journey of 410.17km, covering eight
“We’re looking forward to returning to Dunedin
and the Otago rally as we’re happy with the car and comfortable with how
it handles having spent the last few season’s refining things,”
describes Richard Mason, who is co-driven by wife Sara in the
championship winning BNT Subaru.
“It will be interesting to see
how it goes in Dansey’s Pass and the roads to the north on the Saturday.
We found the roads very heavily gravelled last time we went through
there in 2009 and I’m not sure if that’s a common occurrence. If it is
road position could play a factor. So we’ll be watching the weather
closely, combined with what we observe during reconnaissance and make a
call on tyres as late as we can – and I think we’ll find it will catch a
“Hopefully it will be nice there for the weekend – it’s always more enjoyable when the sun shines.”
teams start on Friday evening with an assembly of cars at Dunedin’s
Octagon from 5pm. Fans can meet the drivers and collect autographs at
the 5:30pm signing session which is followed by a ceremonial start from
6:05pm where the first car will be flagged away. The action proper
begins on Saturday morning with crews and cars leaving from Dunedin’s
Southern Cross Hotel from 7am, journeying north to the first of eight
special stages for the day.
Following a quick service break at
Dunback after the second special stage teams will contest the infamous
28.26km Dansey’s pass. After a further two stages crews get a second
service stop, this time in Oamaru, followed by two more stages and a
return to the city. The day ends with a blast through Dunedin’s
industrial quarter, as teams tackle the 2.15km tarmac super special
stage, starting at 3:20pm.
Teams get a further hour service time before the cars are locked away for the night.
continuation, post daylight saving clock corrections, is a further
eight special stages held closer to the city centre totalling 120.48km
of the 397.11km travelled for the day. Starting from 7:40am with the
28.70km Ramrock road, inland from Karitane they have the 10.75km
Moonlight stage before a service break in Middlemarch. A further two
stages and the repeat of the Moonlight Rd the following service is a
last break before the sprint to the end. Tackling the 12.66km Waipori
Gorge and 15.05km Kuri Bush the climax is the 10.94km Whare Flat – a
stone’s throw from the city centre.
Fastest championship team
through this nominated ‘power stage’ earns an additional five
championship points and $500 – for each of the three categories. Prizes
are awarded down to third and points down to fifth.
The survivors then journey the remaining 10km to the Dunedin Railway Station and the ceremonial finish, from 3:25pm.