Palmerston North's Brian Green and co-driver Fleur Pedersen have won the Gisborne Vehicle Testing Waikanae Beach Holiday Park Rally Gisborne after a consistent drive in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X to finish over a minute ahead after 295.03km of competition.
Fifth overall after the first day, Green's pace through today's five special stages in the Tolaga Bay area saw him slowly climb the standings, further assisted by other's falling away. Joining the rally veteran on the podium was Nelson's Ben Hunt in second and non-championship competitor Brent Taylor from Cambridge in third. Auckland's Ron Davey completed the championship podium, also picking up maximum points for the historic category.
The fifth and final round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), powered by Brother, Green's top point score was further reward to the businessman's overall victory – his first championship win in New Zealand since 2001.
"We feel very happy, and I'm very tired," said Green after the champagne finish. "The team's worked really hard and Fleur has done a great job in the car - we're extremely happy.
"Gisborne has always had really good roads. They were smooth and fast but also very tricky; lots of crests with corners straight after them."
Despite missing two championship rounds this season due to offshore commitments, Green finished the season sixth overall.
Pleasant spring weather conditions again greeted the crews as they departed Gisborne Motors at 7:30am this morning, before taking in a further 125.75km of competitive road sections.
Overnight rally leader Richard Mason further extended his lead after the first two special stages this morning, however in the third the newly crowned overall champion was forced to retire. Mid-way through the 20.57km Ihungia stage he lost drive in the BNT Subaru STI, finding later the clutch had failed. Having secured enough points on Saturday's leg for the Goldstar title, Mason said finding the fault was important at being able to improve his chances at winning the rally next time.
In second place after the earlier retirement of Auckland's Dave Strong in the Ford Fiesta S2000, Green took the rally lead and continued to extend the advantage by the time the team's returned to Gisborne for the ceremonial finish at Read's Quay.
A sensational finish by 24-year-old Hunt, a former winner of the Rally of New Zealand supported Rising Stars Scholarship allowed him to secure the 2WD championship category, despite missing the first-half of the season.
"It was pretty awesome today; we had quite a bit to do to try and hold Brian Green off but unfortunately he got ahead, but that's to be expected when you're in a 4WD compared to our 2WD.
"We are just looking forward to next year and seeing what we can come up with!"
The Open Class 4WD title fell the way of Rangiora's Matt Summerfield, who, despite retiring earlier in the day, maintained his pre-event lead over rival Alex Kelsey, who also failed to score points.
A nail biting finish in the historic category has seen Kaiapoi's Marcus van Klink secure the title after retiring yesterday and giving his rivals a reasonable chance at leap-frogging his advantage. Despite losing brakes in the Mazda RX7 late in the day, van Klink's victory came when title rival Miles McElwain's Toyota left the road and had to retire.
"We're very tired but we're pretty stoked as this is our first championship win," enthused van Klink.
"We very nearly didn't make it though; we had to do the last 10km with no brakes which made it very interesting, especially along those cliff faces!"
Re-joining after breaking front suspension yesterday, Timaru's Chris West and Palmerston North based co-driver Chris Cobham set fastest time in the final three stages, assisting them to maximum day points in their new Andrew Simms Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X. Adding to their total was a further three bonus points from the event's ‘power stage', the 23.59km Waimata Valley. West finished fourth overall in the championship, having only finished one event this season.
Also re-joining, after retiring early yesterday, Christchurch's Matt Jansen secured the junior rally championship title with Tauranga's David Holder taking the rookie title.
Subaru won the manufacturers crown, finishing 132 points ahead of Mitsubishi's 119. Ford were third on 80 points.
Final declaration of championship positions will follow technical checks, with provisional titles being awarded until the MotorSport New Zealand awards dinner in 2013.
News and information about the championship – including driver profiles and team news – can be found on the website www.nzrallychampionship.co.nz