Two 35-year-old Historic Rally cars have finished in the top six placings overall of the 2011 Rally New Zealand event, which was run over the past weekend on the gravel back roads of the southern Franklin and Raglan areas
Taking fifth spot overall, and first two wheel drive car home, were Kaiapoi’s Brian Stokes and Ally Mackay in a 1978 Ford Escort RS1800, with fellow Cantabrian’s Marcus Van Klink and Dave Neill (1980 Group B Mazda RX7) a mere 2.6 seconds behind in sixth overall.
Coming into the final 4.6km special stage around the Hampton Downs race track, the pairings were matching each others times, but it was “Klinky” who admitted to having a few nervous moments along the way.
“Today we were trying real hard to catch Brian (Stokes) and there were a couple of times when we were just a little over the limit, and I had to back off the pace bit after “woops” was clearly communicated inside the car.”
Stokes and Van Klink also took out the top two placing’s in the Rally NZ Historic section, and were followed by former Rally NZ Directors, both who have returned to Historic rallying in recent years, Rob Wylie (Auckland) in a Nissan 240RS and Hamilton’s Gary Smith in a Ford Escort RS1800.
Smith’s event was slowed in the early stages with a gear selector issue, which necessitated two gearbox changes on the Saturday, while Wylie had his issues today (Sunday) hitting a rock, damaging the rear of the car and breaking a wheel rim. In fact Wylie said “we actually hit the same rock both times through Whaanga Coast (the stage was run on two occasions) but we did it at the right place as the TV crew phoned later to say they have our bumper!”.