Hamilton, November 17.
Former New Zealand rally champion Chris West suffered a body blow in Special Stage 2 of the Propecia Rally of New Zealand earlier today.
West is having his last drive in the Subaru NZ Rally Team Impreza WRX STi before the team is disbanded.
He was running as second New Zealander, 3.8 seconds behind current champion Richard Mason when the Impreza punctured about six kilometres into the 43.88km Te Koraha 1 test.
With that much distance to cover West and co-driver Garry Cowan had no option but to stop and change the tyre.
Finding a suitable safe place to stop and change the wheel proved difficult, and West lost precious seconds, the handicap compounded by the time it took to change the wheel. West says he lost well over two minutes.
He dropped from 18th overall to 30th, and was now more than three minutes behind Mason.
West said he didn’t know why he’d picked up the puncture. He was braking for a corner, and the tyre suddenly went flat.