Rapid rally driving talent, Rangiora's Brad Harris, picked up where he left off a fortnight ago in South Canterbury, winning the Magnum Prestige Mainland Rally Series finale, the Westland Rally, held on Saturday.
Fresh from the taste of victory in the Rally Xtreme final, the twenty two year old blitzed the field in a dominant performance, taking an impressive seven stage wins in the eight stage rally to take the rally win by a minute and twenty-four seconds. For Harris, the win on the West Coast of the Mainland, gives him his maiden outright rally win in just his first full season of regional rallying, in an aged Lancer Evo 1.
In a start to finish lead, only a smashed front wheel in Stage 6 stopped Harris and co-driver David Calder from taking a clean sweep of stage wins. "We just clipped a rock hidden in the inside line of a corner that I was committed to", commented Harris. "Fortunately we were only four kilometres from the end of the stage so we drove out on the rim and were able to change it on touring without losing much time. Regan (Ross) started the stage in front of us and suffered the same damage when he hit the rock as well."
Wet conditions were experienced all day, with some rain on every stage, testing many of the drivers on the 'blind' rally. "Surprisingly we are at round six and this is the first wet rally of the championship!" said the Hankook Motorsports supported Harris. "Despite the rain, the road surface was very consistent all day. Our Hankook R203 tyres couldn't have been better suited to the wet conditions and cooler ground temperatures we've rallied on today. They certainly give a driver confidence to push." The win gives Hankook Motorsports tyres their first outright rally victory in Australasia since their introduction to the rallying market.
Nelson driver Greg Teece (Evo 6.5) finished the rally second, followed closely by Regan Ross (Evo 8) with Derek Ayson bringing his Evo 4 home in fifth to clinch the overall Mainland Rally Series title for the second year running. Commenting at the finish in Greymouth, the Canterbury pairing said, "We have achieved what we set out to do this season which was to get as many stage miles as a combination under our belts as possible. We knew this year was a learning year, and despite the disappointments of some mechanical failures earlier in the season, it is fantastic to end it strongly in preparation for next season's opportunities. We owe a great deal of thanks to Hankook and Quality Tyre Specialists for their support and assistance in our campaign this year."
The result also elevated Harris to fourth overall in the Mainland Series and Calder to runner up for the overall co-drivers title.
The Hankook Motorsports Evo will now undergo preparation for the final round of the Autosport Club Sprint Championship in two weeks time, where Harris has an unbeatable lead in the series with three wins from three starts.