Summer's secret winning motivation
Dean Sumner wasn’t telling anyone about it. It was his secret, and he was keeping it to himself. It was an ambition really; an ambition to go out and win the Hawke’s Bay Rally.
“It was my secret,” he said after achieving that short-term goal and winning the fourth round of the 2007 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship.
“I really wanted a good result in Hawke’s Bay.”
His elation was a far cry from the despair of the series’ opening round in Otago where he had shown some flashes of brilliant speed but had been let down on leg 1 by his Lancer Evo 9.
He’d said back then that he’d prefer to have been in his old Evo 8.
But last Saturday, the ITM Evo 9 ran faultlessly.
Sumner had charged from the start, running second on the road behind Hayden Paddon (Evo 8) after organisers re-seeded the event to take into account drivers’ rated seedings.
The team had revised strategy and tyre choices after the re-seeding, and Sumner was fast out of the blocks on the 34km Special Stage 1.
He was second-fastest NZ series finisher on that stage, behind local man Stewart Taylor (Evo 9).
“The plan was to give the first stage all I had,” Sumner said. “(The rally) was a short event, the first stage was 34km and I didn’t want to be on the back foot after it.”
He said running second on the road was “something new” for him and co-driver Paul Fallon.
“I found it quite a bit different, a bit more slippery (running on roads not as swept of gravel as he’s used to running on).
“I had to change my driving style quite considerably to suit the conditions.”
He said he’d had to keep constantly adjusting throughout the rally. “There were amazingly-different surfaces on every stage, they each had their own character and I had to find a new technique for each.”
The first stage’s difficulty had been compounded by starting in the dark without special driving lights.
“We started just before seven (am) and the sun was only just starting to come up. I was glad to get to the end of that stage.”
He said he’d had a few moments in that test. “On the in-car (video camera) we counted six moments in the one stage.
“I was pushing hard, probably too hard, but I wanted to set a fast time in the first stage.”
He took the rally lead on Special Stage 2 and never lost it, winning stages four and five and opening a good gap over the pursuing Sam Murray.
Sumner’s focus now is Rally New Zealand at the end of this month.
“The car has been stripped down to a bare bodyshell,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re rebuilding it completely for Rally NZ, new motor, gearbox, diffs, and the lot.”
And why had it been so important to win in Hawke’s Bay?
Well, it had something to do with Rally NZ, and the fact that Sumner had missed out on winning one of the wild card Production World Rally Championship entries for the international event.
“Probably because I didn’t get the PWRC wild car entry,” he replied. ”That gave me a little bit of extra motivation.”