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Rock wrecks West's Rally NZ


Former champ retires after a rock gets stuck against the driveshaft and takes too long to dislodge.

Former New Zealand rally champion, Chris West, withdrew from Repco Rally New Zealand today, ending a frustrating weekend.

The Andrew Simms Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 driver says that in this morning’s opening stage at Te Hutewai, near Raglan, a rock got under the driveshaft, bent the skidplate and got jammed against the driveshaft.

“We stopped and realised what had happened, and drove to the end of the stage. It was making a horrendous noise.”

West and co-driver Garry Cowan parked after the stage finish and worked flat-out to try to remove the rock.

They got it out but had run over the maximum lateness allowed to clock into the start of the next special stage. They had no option but to withdraw.

The withdrawal followed a weekend in which the Lancer’s steering wheel broke on Friday morning and then the intercooler pipe for the turbocharger got bent.

“We had no power for three stages.”

Yesterday the car ran into braking problems and West went into a corner too hot, nudged a bank and flipped.

He got going again but the braking problems persisted and weren’t correctly diagnosed and rectified until late last night. The problem was traced to a damaged brake calliper.

The Friday and Saturday problems ended his chances of challenging Hayden Paddon for the NZ championship lead

“It’s the worst event I’ve ever had,” West said this afternoon. “It cost us the championship. It’s very disappointing because when the car was running properly it was really good.

“I was comfortable with it and it had good speed.”

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