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Battle of Wairarapa ready to roll


Andrew Hawkeswood won the overall title at the 2008 Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa, upstaging the efforts of local rally master Richard Mason. That was a bitter pill for Mason, to see someone else’s name on the rally trophy that until then had been his alone.

Now that battle is set to re-ignite with Hawkeswood confirming his entry for this years event, held over 18-19 July. Especially as both competitors are competing in the Vantage Aluminium New Zealand Rally Championship.

While Mason’s main focus is to win the championship outright, he will be desperate to avenge last years result. But there is the added pressure in that he must win and take maximum points from the two days in order to have any chance of taking the NZ title.

So while Mason chases the championship in his Group N Subaru Impreza, Hawkeswood has this year entered the next tier down and is competing in the Open 4WD class for slightly older cars. Despite the technology disadvantage, Hawkeswood may well have a power advantage, being able to run in Group A trim.

That sweet taste of success isn’t forgotten easily by either of these two pilots. The battle is bound to be fierce.

But that’s not the only thing to watch. A field of 26 national championship competitors is lead by Hayden Paddon, and coming hot off his win at the International Rally of Whangarei, he will be breathing down the necks of Mason and Hawkeswood. None will be able to put a wheel wrong for the 250km distance.

Emma Gilmour has had a string on consistent results this year, and a number of podium finishes. With a new team around her, she has been highly competitive. Although the Wairarapa roads haven’t been a happy hunting ground for Emma in the past, that is likely to change this year.

Also making an impact is the swag of new young competitors stepping up to the top level of competition in NZ. Seven are coming over from the South Island for their first taste of the mighty Wairarapa, along with a number from around the North Island. This is an ideal chance to see the up and coming talent, before they become famous.

Rounding out the top class field of 53 are the competitors in the Geartech Central Region series, plus a number who have come out of the woodwork for a one off play in the gravel. The event is a favourite among drivers and it always attracts club competitors who want to be able to say they came, they drove hard, they survived.

Fast Facts

  • Round 4 of Vantage Aluminium NZ Rally Championship
  • Round 3 of Geartech Central Region Rally Series, (points scoring based on Saturdays results only)
  • 15 Special Stages, 7 on Saturday 18 July, and 8 on Sunday
  • 249.36km of Special Stages, 132.31km on Saturday, 117.05km on Sunday
  • Drivers Signing session Friday 17th July, from 6:00pm at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park
  • Saturday 18th July, Start 8:40am at Pongaroa, 2 service stops at Pongaroa, Finish 5:20pm at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park
  • Sunday 19th July, Start 8:00am at Solway Park, 2 service stops at Eketahuna, Finish 3:30pm at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park

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