This weekend’s penultimate round of the Parker ENZED New Zealand Rally Championship could well crown a new 2006 champion at the Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa (25-27 August 2006).
The two-day event covers roads to the north of the Masterton base – through the remote Pongaroa regions and rolling farmland of Wairarapa for round five of six in the 2006 season.
Split evenly across the Saturday and Sunday, twelve gravel stages totalling 211km will test the 24-strong championship field, which must complete the 544km event to maximise their point’s collection.
A stay-at-home round for defending rally champion Richard Mason (Subaru Impreza), his extensive 74-point lead could well see him crowned double champion provided he completes the event with a 65 point lead margin over second place. This will be the last event for Mason and co-driver Sara Randall – out for the final Nelson round due to off-shore commitments.
“We’re 100% focused on winning the championship,” said Mason. “We’ll be watching the three championship title contenders behind us (Murray, Martin and Gilmour). If we find we’re not in a position to be fighting for a rally win then so be it.”
“We need to have points on both days – unless the point’s situation changes dramatically.”
Looking to topple Mason on his home-turf, Auckland’s Chris West is on a winning streak – bouncing back from not scoring points at the first two rounds to outright winning subsequent events.
Fellow Subaru campaigners Sam Murray (Palmerston North) and Emma Gilmour (Dunedin) suffered at the previous round, Murray first with handling problems then a punctured radiator, while Gilmour was plagued by a differential issue.
Looking to expel Mitsubishi’s Brett Martin from the current third championship position, Gilmour returns to New Zealand hardened from back-to-back weekends of WRC competition aboard a Ford Fiesta ST. Her focus now is chasing sleep in an effort to be fully ready.
Continuing in the series after a funding shortfall was met by a number of additional sponsors, Brett Martin keeps Mitsubishi’s only hope of a championship placing alive – his Lancer EVO 9 the only triple-diamond in the top-7 places.
While Subaru dominate the top standings, Mitsubishi drivers lead both the Junior and Rookie tables: Hawke’s Bay drivers Patrick Malley and Stewart Taylor with the respective honours. Both categories are hotly contested – ensuring class action for the Wairarapa weekend.
“Just tenuously hanging in there,” said Taylor. “If things are still on the same play where Hayden (Paddon) keeps beating me by 1-2 seconds then it could change.”
“My motivation will be to beat him in the two legs, which removes the pressure for Nelson – that is the goal. On the county roads of the second day (of Hawke’s Bay) I beat him, and he beat me in the forest stages - and I know Wairarapa hasn’t got any (forest).”
While the Kiwi-2 class has started to shake in to order, current leader Aaron Cook (Kapiti) in the Honda Jazz is under pressure to ensure a 100% finishing record if he has any hope of taking the title in his rookie year. A DNF at the first leg of the Hawke’s Bay weekend clipped his lead to a catchable 23-points over second placed Glenn Inkster in the Honda Integra (Auckland).
Both have benefited from consistent results over outright performance. Defending champion Dave Strong has completed four of the ten legs so far – to be 109 points off the pace. Class flier Kayne Barrie again sits on the sidelines – a niggling back injury keeping him out until the final round. “We’re entering for Nelson, subject to final clearance on the week before the rally,” commented Barrie.
Down to seven entries for the Wairarapa event, the top-5 placed in the championship are all still in contention for the title.
The Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa starts at 8am on Saturday outside the Copthorne Resort (Solway Park) in southern Masterton – with the cars covering six stages to return from 3:30pm.
Sunday’s second leg starts again from the Copthorne Resort (9am), again covers six stages and returns for a ceremonial finish from 2:30pm.
Parker ENZED New Zealand Rally Championship - points after round 4 (of 6) - Goldstar
1. Richard Mason 237, 2. Sam Murray 163, 3. Brett Martin 156, 4. Emma Gilmour 150, 5. Chris West 123, 6. Glenn Smith 108, 7. Todd Bawden 106, 8. Grant Barber 83, 9.= Stewart Taylor and Dylan Turner 80
1. Aaron Cook 186, 2. Glenn Inkster 163, 3. James Holder 143, 4. Jason West 128, 5. Andrew Keighley 123
1. Bert Murray 128, 2. Keith Frankum 108
Provisional start order: Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa (26-27 August 2006)
1 Richard Mason Sara Randall 1 Subaru
2 Chris West Garry Cowan 1 Subaru
5 Sam Murray Rob Ryan 1 Subaru
9 Emma Gilmour Chris Cobham 1 Subaru
3 Brett Martin Raymond Bennett 1 Evo9
8 Dean Sumner Paul Fallan 1 Evo8
7 Glenn Smith Colin Smith 1 Subaru
10 Grant Barber Bede O’Connor 1 Evo8
14 Dylan Turner Sandy Bansal 1 Evo9
12 Hayden Paddon John Kennard 1 Evo8
11 Stewart Taylor Warwick Searle 1 Evo9
15 Brent Taylor Chris Ramsay 1 Evo6
16 Lee-Anne Barns Damon McLachlan 1 Evo8
20 Patrick Malley TBA 1 Evo7
18 Dermott Malley Linzi Malley 1 Evo8
17 Carl Adnitt Aaron Conaghan 1 Evo7
19 Trevor Taylor Jason Timmins 1 Evo8
21 Dave Strong Bruce McKenzie 2 Honda Civic
26 Aaron Cook Stratton Campbell 2 Honda Jazz
23 James Holder Richard Ellis 2 Toyota Levin
25 Glenn Inkster Glenn Goldring 2 Honda Integra
33 Andrew Keighley Johnathan Kane 2 Honda CRX
22 Jason West Charmaine Helm 2 Suzuki Ignis
30 Reg Cook Tony Mattson 2 Nissan Pulsar
35 Andrew Hawkeswood Jeff Cress D Evo8
36 Lew Scott Mike Reid D Evo6
37 Dave Ayling Grant Kenny D 4 Subaru
38 Robbie Leicester Steve Smith H 4 Subaru
39 Callum McInnes Linda Loughlin D 4 Evo6
40 Evan O’Leary Erin Kyle D 4 Evo6.5
41 Peter Trotter Murray Trotter D Evo4
42 Malcolm Stewart Mike Fletcher D 4 Evo6.5
43 Kevin Honiss Malcolm Peden D 4 TBA
44 Jeff Judd Grant Marra D 4 Subaru
45 Matthew Jenson Brett Wright D 4 Evo6
46 Andrew Spier Janine McNaught D 4 Evo5
47 Jeff Hill Mike Catty H 4 Evo5
48 John Giltrap Paul Millar D 4 Subaru
49 Kingsley Jones Len Fisher D Subaru
50 Kirsty Nelson Michelle Brunt D 4 Evo3
51 Richard Ive Maree Burley D 4 TBA
52 Ray Reid Scott Taylor D 4 Subaru
53 Peter Clendon Kathleen Clendon E 4 VR4
54 Kerry Harvey Kester Olivecrona D Subaru
55 Dougal Taylor Gareth Taylor D Subaru
56 Clinton Anderson Kelvin McCaughey D 4 Evo6
57 Anton Meier Dave Devonport D 4 Subaru
58 Andre Meier Jason Farmer D 4 Subaru
59 Grant Liston Rob Scott C 3 Civic
60 Craig Stevens Chris Alexander C 3 Escort
61 Andrew Sim Deane Buist H 3 Corolla
62 Paul Black Steve Walker B 3 Corolla
63 Nathan Thomas Kelly Richard E VR4
64 Nathan Stewart Peter Bidlake E VR4
65 Tony McConachy Andrew Hughes A Starlet
66 Jim Hey Daniel Feck H Escort
67 Simon Bell TBA E Legacy
68 Neil Marshall Richard Carr D Evo3
69 Rob Piper Nick Tollemache B Corolla
70 Robin Feck TBA H Starlet
71 Clarance Hermon Michelle Lucke E Subaru
72 Warren Tunley Andrew Knox B Toyota
73 Adam Bligh Michael Green D Evo3
74 Gavin Pollard Daniel Van Waveren E VR4
75 Kelly Houghton Nathan Flynn C Corolla
76 Claye McBride Daniel Higgins B Starlet
77 Gordon Diggle Jody Seabright C Mirage
78 Piran Pigneguy Stuart Pigneguy E Lancer
79 Bryan Weir Lance Prouce E Pulsar
80 Ivan Johanson Vicki Johanson H Rover
81 John McAndrew TBA E Legacy
82 Peter Weir Justin Rankin B Avenger
83 Chris Clarke Graeme Robertson C Nissan
84 Paul Richards Bryan Heathcote C Renault Clio
85 Morgan Tunnicliffe David Chinnery-Brown B Datsun
86 David Tubb Stephen Heskey B Corolla
87 David Wilce Brian Craig B Charade
88 Mike Beauchamp Pete Johns A Mini
Parker ENZED New Zealand Rally Championship - calendar
1 5-7 May: Rally of Otago
2 26-28 May: Rally of Rotorua
3 30 June 2 July: Rally New Zealand North - Whangarei
4 28-30 July: Rally of Hawke’s Bay
5 25-27 August: Rally of Wairarapa
6 22-24 Sept: Rally of Nelson