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Honiss top seed for Northland


For the first time this year rally drivers competing in the Top Half series and Xtreme Championship will go head to head in Saturday's Rally of the North.

The Copthorne Bay of Islands Rally of the North which starts in Paihia and travels to Kaitaia and back, has attracted 70 entries, including for the first time in its eight year history, three South Island crews.

The top seed is Hamilton’s Kevin Honiss, who won the Ferodo Top Half series, which is held over six events in the top half of the North Island, last year.
Honiss has not nominated his car yet, but it is likely to be a 4WD Mitsubishi Cyborg or a Subaru Impreza WRX. He is defending his Top Half title, where he currently lies second equal with 40 points and also plans to compete in the other rounds of the Silverstone Tyres/Winger Subaru Xtreme series.

His main opposition is likely to come from Taranaki’s Dave Ayling and Palmerston North’s Anton Cheetham, both in Impreza WRXs, who are the second and third seeds.

Leading the South Island invasion is Les Summerfield from Christchurch in yet another Impreza. He’ll start 10th and Nelson’s Paul Nicoll in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 12th seed.

The Rally Xtreme Championship caters for cars that are no longer eligible for the national championship, and competitors have to do one event outside their island of residence.
The Rally of the North with its fine reputation for smooth back country gravel roads, rather than the rougher forestry stages used by some events, has lured a good entry from around the North Island as well as the South Island trio.

The current leader in this year’s Top Half series is the 17th seed Anton Meier from Cambridge
in another Subaru, who has 61 points.

Aucklander Eric Uhe, in a 1600cc Honda Civic, lies fourth overall with 38 points.

Local attention will focus on the performance of Waiotira’s Kirsty Nelson, who is only in her second season of rallying. The 17-year-old school girl won the novice title in the Top Half Series last year and currently lies sixth in her Lancer Evo 3. She will start 25th. Nelson is the first woman ever to win a New Zealand rally – the Rotorua Clubmans event run in conjunction with last month’s Rotorua International Rally. Honiss was leading the event in Richard Mason’s Evo 8 when he crashed.

The top seeded Northlander is Waipu’s John Tee in a Subaru who will be 19th on the road. There are 10 Northland crews in the field.

The event covers eight stages totalling 160km and passes through Kohukohu, Broadwood, Takahue, Herekino, and Awanui before the lunch break at Kaitaia.

In the afternoon the route goes through Peria, Kenana, Waihapa, Kaeo, Puketi, Kerikeri, Oromahoe and Opua before finishing in Paihia. 

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