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Rally: Westy targets podium


Chris West will be looking for some help from his fellow Subaru drivers if he is to finish runner-up in the National Rally Championship at Nelson on Sunday 24 September.

Westy and co-driver Garry Cowan in the Subaru New Zealand Rally Team Impreza WRX STI go into the two day event held in the Nelson Forests lying fifth in the Championship, 20 points behind current second placed Brett Martin.

"We've got to win both heats and hope some of the other Subaru drivers finish in front of Brett," said Westy. "Even if Brett has a couple of third places and we're fortunate to win both heats Brett will still finish two points ahead."

The only problem West has, his fellow Subaru drivers, Emma Gilmour and Sam Murray are after that runner-up spot as well. "Both Sam and Emma have there sights set firmly on the runner up position," said West.

Throw in the wild card of young South Island 'Rookie contender' Hayden Paddon and the fact the Golden Downs forest road's have the reputation for causing more punctures than any other round of the series makes the point's permutations almost endless!

"Garry and I aim to win both heats and see what happens," said Westy. "Brett is not going to be a push over by any means. Nelson's stages are very fast and will suit his car."

Last year Westy's Winger Subaru punctured on the opening stage on Sunday, spoiling his chances of victory. "It'll be important to keep clean and tidy lines and stay on line if we want to stay puncture free," said Westy.

West's advantage of running first on what are likely to be hard packed roads that he knows as well as and perhaps even better than any one in the field depends on the weather. "If its fine there's bound to be loose gravel on the surface, however if it's wet the surface will hold together and provide reasonable grip for the front runners" said West.

"It's the final round and there's still a lot at stake. Everyone will be pushing as hard as they have all season" said Westy. "I'm sure the battle for all the top places will be close."

Saturday's heat includes five stages in the Hira forest north of Nelson, while on Sunday drivers will tackle six stages south of the city.

Championship points going into the event.-

Drivers. - 1, Richard Mason (Subaru Impreza WRX STI), 296; 2, Brett Martin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9), 202; 3, Emma Gilmour (Subaru Impreza WRX STI), 188; 4, Sam Murray (Subaru Impreza WRX STI), 183; 5, Chris West (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 182.

Manufacturers. - 1, Subaru, 437; 2, Mitsubishi, 271.

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