10 September – Autosport At The Nelson Rally

The Nelson Rally was a great event this year, slick organisation and some great bits of road made it pretty enjoyable for the crews. Unfortunately the Autosport membership who went to the rally had a mixed bag of fortunes! John Giltrap and Grant Marra scored a fine second place overall in the rally. John was pretty happy with the extra grunt he had on tap after some mods to the car. Dermot Martin and Bede O’Connor also benefiting from some extra boost from computer tweaks came in 7th overall. Merv Hatcher finshed in 9th overall after having co-pilot Richard Atkinson carsick for most of the event.  Brent and Crusty Buist were beaten for top spot in the big classic class by Derek Ayson by 11 seconds! They achieved 11th overall nonetheless.

Andrew Sim had his trailer axle come off at Maruia Falls on the drive to Nelson. Luckily they were going slowly and no-one was coming the other direction to run into the Corolla on a big sled skidding across the road! After a stop to carry out repairs by bolting the axle back to the trailer, Andrew and co-driver Tony Witheridge were able to go on to win class B and be third 2WD car to finish.

Barry Varcoe and Andrew Bulman were locked in a huge fight with Stephen Petersen all rally, trading fastest class times throughout the event. Unfortunately they dropped a bit of time in the last stage and finished second in the 0-1300cc class in the silver Starlet. David Fletcher and Andy Reid had intermittant missing due to an electrical problem in the Corolla but benefitted from other’s misfortune to take 3rd place in the 0-1700cc classic class.

Geoff Bone had a good rally in the Corolla (a good rally for Geoff is one he finishes!). He and daughter Gemma were using notes for the first time and both enjoyed the event. Luke Thelning and Will Johns lost a lot of time in stages 3 and 5, but put in some scorching times in the last three stages of the day to claw their way back to 4th in their class. Geoff Combe and Sean Sands drove steadily in the 1500cc Starlet to make it to the finish. They were 25th overall.

John Silcock and Josh Marston again had an early exit, losing a wheel in SS1 after the front wheel studs sheared off on one side. Wayne Julian put a hole in a fuel hose and ran out of fuel in the Peugeot. This was not before performing a spectacular nose dive at a spectator area ford/jump. Wayne and co-driver Wayne Saville rejoined and completed the last two stages.

Les Summerfield and Hayden Riddle had a dismal day, they lost the speedo and trip computer the night before the rally, then in SS1 the car lost second gear. In SS2 the car landed very heavily after the concrete ford/jump, bending the chassis rails, moving the radiator and turning the sump guard inside out! This caused the sump guard to pinch wires and they lost all power (to find the problem they built a test light out of a stop light bulb and two pieces of wire!). Unfortunately they had to put in a temporary withdrawal and were towed back to service. In the service the crew changed gearbox oil and started on changing the gearbox but decided they didn’t have enough time. They also found the right rear strut was broken, and cracked arms in the front and back suspension. They rejoined on the 6th stage but the WRX’s engine expired with a broken oil ring and that was it.

Hayden Spatcher blew two tyres out in SS5 and limped back to service with Ian Brough sitting in the boot to counterbalance the car. Unfortunately they were forced to miss SS6 and received a DNF for the event, but completed the last three stages after rejoining. Kieron Telford and Peter Sims in the Nissan Pulsar GTiR found themselves off the road and 70m down a bank in SS3. Not a good introduction to the pace notes! The car didn’t roll but contacted several trees during it’s descent and was not able to rejoin. Deane Buist and Rocky Hudson also had wheel issues. Twelve km’s into SS1 and a large vibration quickly turned into a missing front wheel (which went jetting off into the trees). He then stopped (not by choice as Deane is quick to point out) thinking he’d lost two wheels as there was one lying on the road beside the car. The car had in fact only lost the one wheel, it had bounced back off a tree and landed on the road again! All the wheel studs were broken so Deane used a rock to extract two studs from the opposite side and put them into the side that was missing them and continued (stopping to check the wheels every 2km). They lost 17mins in the stage and were out of contention. In SS7 they also stopped to try to tow Mark Tapper back onto the road but were unsuccessful.

Deane commented that he thought the officials printed the results upside down, as his name was at the bottom and he thought it should have been somewhere near the top. John Giltrap begged to differ as he didn’t want to end up second to last!

Also contibuting to the atmosphere at Nelson were several club members in a service crew capcity and some spectating as well. Steve Carr was servicing for Neville Kidd from Invercargill, Michelle Reid forgo the TeamRFR overalls as it was apparently too warm in Tapawera to be wearing them while changing wheels, Andrew Wells was working on two or three cars as part of the Dermot Martin entourage, Barry Deuart was there to wield the spanners for Andrew Sim, Jonathan Bradshaw was enjoying the sun on a deck chair while waiting for the Giltrap car to need it’s work, and Royce Watson was an event official being the service park scrutineer while also servicing for the Buists. Bruce and Sue France were spotted around the service area and out on the stages, not long returned from their trip to South-east Asia and looking very relaxed and tanned. Well done to everyone who made the effort to help out and to get out and watch, it made the event even better!