Summerfield victorious in Whangarei
Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield has fired himself back into championship contention with a strong victory at round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship fuelled by Gull and driven by Dunlop, the International Rally of Whangarei. Summerfield and co-driving sister Nicole (Subaru Impreza) led home Dylan Turner/Malcolm Read (Audi S1 AP4) by 1 minute 6.4 seconds over the event, with Darren Galbraith/Rocky Hudson (Mitsubishi Evo 8) third.
Not everything went to plan for the Summerfield team, with an exhaust manifold requiring replacement in this morning’s 15 minute service. The job took the team 20 minutes, which saw them drop out of the lead with a 50 second penalty. That saw Turner take the lead on what was a debut for his new car, however a charge from Summerfield saw him regain the lead on special stage 12, the day’s second. While Turner continued to push Summerfield, third placed Galbraith was running conservatively with a blown head gasket.
Rhys Gardner/Phil Hall (Mazda 2) were able to maintain their fourth place across the day, holding off a fast finishing Graham Featherstone/Dave Devenport (Mitsubishi Evo 7), Job Quantock/Matt Hayward (Mitsubishi Evo 7), Dave Strong/Bruce McKenzie (Ford Fiesta S2000), Tony Gosling/Blair Read (Ford Escort RS1800), Dylan Thomson/Amy Hudson and Max Tregilgas/Glenn Goldring (Both Ford Fiestas). Also charging hard on the final day was Andrew Hawkeswood/Jeff Cress (Mazda 2 AP4+), who picked up bonus points for fastest on day two.
The NZRC two-wheel drive class saw a last minute come back from Dylan Thomson to overhaul Max Tregilgas, while overnight third place holders Robbie and Amy Stokes retired with suspension damage. Jack Williamson proved reliability over outright pace was the correct strategy in the open-two wheel drive class, taking victory as the only finisher.
The Historic class went in favour of Tony Gosling, who also received the prestigious Motogard Trophy (awarded to winners of Rally New Zealand between 1978-1982), ahead of John Silcock/Richard Atkinson (Mazda RX-7) and Paul Fraser/Chris Davison (Ford Escort RS1800).
By virtue of two consistent results, Graham Featherstone has taken a slender two point lead over Summerfield, with Turner, Gardner, David Holder and Hawkeswood all within 11 points as the series heads to Lone Star Rally Canterbury on 3-4 June.
Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfield 2:42:00.3
Dylan Turner/Malcolm Read +1:06.4
Darren Galbraith/Rocky Hudson +2:06.4
Rhys Gardner/Phil Hall +5:47.9
Graham Featherstone/Dave Devenport +7:02.1
Photo credit Geoff Ridder/Kate Ridder (check file name please)