Dean Sumner’s scorching win in the forests at Rally Nelson this weekend has put him one step closer to becoming the 2010 Vantage Aluminium New Zealand Rally Champion
Extensive testing before the event gave Sumner the confidence and speed to win nine of the 12 stages south-west of Nelson. His co-driver Paul Fallon racked up enough points over the weekend to win the 2010 Group N 4WD Co-Driver Championship.
“It’s been a really good weekend,” Sumner said, “Richard Mason has kept us honest today, we’ve been battling hard to stay in front of him.
“Going into that last stage with a 10 second gap, I don’t think Mason had that much [speed] left and I definitely couldn’t have given much more.”
Hamilton driver Emma Gilmour followed Mason over the ramp in third place for the weekend, her points deficit to Sumner now standing at 29 going into the final round at Rally Wairarapa.
Junior Championship leader Sloan Cox showed impressive speed in his Mitsubishi Evo X over the weekend to cement his position ahead of Stephen Barker.
Group N 2WD Fiesta drivers Barker and Ben Hunt locked horns as expected with Barker triumphant by 15.3 seconds – though it was as close as two seconds earlier in the day.
“We had a good day and managed to stay out of trouble to get a good result,” Barker said.
Despite battling a clutch issue all weekend, Open 4WD’s Geof Argyle perseverance paid off when Marcus van Klink crashed out on Stage Eight and gifted Argyle back the championship lead.
Meanwhile, the steering on Regan Ross’ Escort failed him this morning, sending him and co-driver Darren Galbraith careering into a rock wall and in turn promoting fellow Historic Challenge competitor Shayne Murland to the round win. Ross and Ron Davey now sit tied on 208 championship points.
Finally, Matt Summerfield amassed an unassailable lead to wrap up the Kiwi 2 class win for 2010.
The Vantage Aluminium New Zealand Rally Championship will go down to the wire at the final round in three weeks time at Rally Wairarapa, 11 – 12 September.
Top-three Gold Star Rally Driver (Group N NZRC) points: Dean Sumner 264, Emma Gilmour 235 and Chris West 179.