The Nelson pairing of Kieran Hall & Peter Hart, in their Southfuels sponsored Subaru Impreza, are looking forward to whatever challenges they may face at the second round of the New Zealand Rally Championship - Rally Otago this weekend
They will be hoping for a clean run after suffering more than their fair share of bad luck at the opening round at Hawke's Bay six weeks ago.
Their NZRC debut was embarked on with high hopes, but turned into a horror show on both days and has left them with a lot of ground to make up on their rivals in the Rookie Championship.
After starting the day with 6th fastest on the first stage, stage two saw them in trouble early with a very unusual exhaust manifold rupture that had even the most experienced mechanics at a loss to explain.
Unbelievable damage was sustained to many parts under the car and they were very lucky not to have a major fire on their hands.
A gutsy overnight effort by the crew, and with help from Richard Mason’s BNT Mason Motorsport Team, had the car ready to go again for day 2.
But this also turned out to be a day of frustration with hold ups at the ford [watercrossing] in the first stage of the day, then dust after catching and passing a car in trouble, which led to the final straw, 2 flat tyres.
25-year-old Kieran explains, “We obviously clipped something sharp in the grass verge when we passed [the stricken car] and punctured both the driver’s side tyres. We are very unfortunate to be the first team to fall foul of the new One Spare Tyre Only rule, as we were forced to try to get back to service on our three remaining good Dunlops.”
The team had no choice but to retire, but rejoined later in the day for valuable seat time and were rewarded for their efforts by posting the 3rd quickest time overall in the last stage of the rally.
Since suffering this bitter frustration and bad luck, the entire Hall Motorsport Team have spent a great deal of time planning their fightback in the Rookie Championship.
"We are more determined than ever to show what we can achieve when things go our way," said Kieran, "and we will also use Otago as our first nominated round in the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars International Award series."
Things are already looking up as the Southfuels Subaru will start in a more favourable 8th on the road this weekend and with the experience and knowledge they have gained from previous visits to the highspeed crests and brows for which the Otago Rally is becoming world renowned, Kieran has high hopes of bettering his 2007 result of 11th overall and with it gaining a substantial points haul to get back in the race for the NZRC.
The Otago Rally runs on 16 and 17 May.