After a horror time in this year’s New Zealand Rally Championship, Dean Sumner has capped off his season with a fine win at the Daybreaker Rally
Raced around the roads of the northern Manawatu, the 2011 edition of the Daybreaker quickly turned into a battle between Dean Sumner (the former national rally champion) and Richard Mason (the current national champion). In order to achieve this Sumner won all but one stage and collected two stage records in the process. However the difference between them on each stage was counted in mere seconds and in the end it was a 37 second lead that saw Sumner home over Mason.
As these two raced away, creating a substantial gap to the rest of the field, the next battle was between two up and coming drivers. Alex Kelsey has built and engineered almost every component of his Subaru Impreza to make a very fast rally car, but niggling problems with the bits he hadn’t built gave him a poor finishing record this season. Seeded right behind him was Shannon Chambers who has impressed this season with his speed, but he too has so far failed to finish due to his highly committed driving style.
Despite there being only a few seconds between them all day, by the penultimate stage Kelsey had built up a comfortable 32 second lead. That was until a broken brake line enforced his retirement around a fence strainer post, with just 15km to go on the event. That left Chambers to claim the final podium position on the first time he has finished a rally. Needless to say Chambers was delighted.
Not far from these two, and duelling for top 5 positions were Peter Trotter and Andrew Spier. Their battle had been the closest of all during the day, with just 5 seconds separating these two after 6 stages. However, as the last stage loomed into view it was Spier who blinked first when his gearbox gave up the ghost. With Trotter now only needing to complete the last 34km, Ridge Road managed to claim yet another victim as Trotter left the road at the same spot made famous by Joe McAndrew many years ago.
Their demise left Nigel Adams and Glenn Pollard to bring their Mitsubishi Lancer Evos into the top 5 as an unexpected result when they crossed the finish line.
Rounding out the top 10 were then a gaggle of two wheel drive cars, the fastest of which had the smallest engine. Tony McConachy is well known for charging hard in his 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa powered Starlet, and here he charged very hard indeed. After the disappointment of a mechanical failure at this event last year, his redemption rewarded him with 6th overall, first in class B and first two wheel drive car.
Next was another character of the sport, with Jason Weld in his Datsun 180B WRC. Having not competed in a rally for a couple of years, it was good to see Weld back to his spectacular style and class winning form.
Sitting in 10th overall was Paul Black in his newer model Toyota Corolla. The result was pleasing for him, not only in a good finish, but the resulting points means that he takes the Central Region Rally Series overall title for 2011. Despite a hard season, with niggling problems early on, it was a consistency of finishing each event that saw him scoop the trophy.