30 November – Hororata Autocross

Competitors arrived at the Hororata Autocross to find the course laid out (thanks to the sterling efforts of Don Mathias and Josh Marston the day before) and a really nice paddock to have a skid in. Documentation went without a hitch with Simone Trezise getting the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed and John Weir scrutineering the cars. Driver’s briefing was called pretty much on time and indian file gave drivers a glimpse of the challenging windey course (almost no straights here!). It was going to be an excellent event, and the weather was playing along with no wind and brilliant sunshine that was to last all day.

The windy course was an excellent test of car control, especially in run 1 where the ground was a bit slippery. The markers were taking a hammering and penalties were dished out left, right and center to those who got a bit keen. Mike White was doing it “For ze funn!” and had the Alfa doing donuts at a couple of places on the course. Josh Marston copied Mike at one time and managed to donut while avoid both of the markers he was spinning between (whether this was luck or good management is still being discussed). Josh’s Starlet was going to be shared by brother Nick but due to the car not starting without a push the younger Marston elected to help out with the marshalling and spotting rather than risk stalling the car on the course. Shane Thornley moved his cows just before the event (there was ample evidence of this over everyone’s shoes but you get that with the country) and was happy with tearing up his own grass to miss out on the small car podium by just 3 seconds.

Sean Gray in the EVO charged around the course, the banging from the anti-lag resounded throughout the paddock and did a bit more than resounding to the start crew. Even having to negotiate the last hairpin by reversing didn’t affect the result with Gray winning the event by a considerable margin. Grant Goile had a dose of the flu and between sitting in the shade of his camper’s awning had some great runs, although he hit a marker once and comments went around that it was the first time anyone had seen him do that, the sweat from the flu likely dripped in his eye. 2nd overall after run 1 is no mean feat when you’re not feeling too flash. Don Mathias uncharacteristically clouted markers in each of his runs and suffered on the scorecard. Andrew Bufton hit a marker in run 2 and that dropped him down the cards a bit but in run 3 he was less than a second off the pace in his class.

Dave Fletcher was in a handy 4th overall after run 1, but heavy contact between his elbow and roll cage in run 2 (funny bones really aren’t that funny apparently – there’ll be some more padding going into the Corolla soon no doubt) saw the others in the class catch up but not enough to threaten his 2nd place. Andy Reid was showing great form with good accelerator control of the car around the sweeping corner by the pits in run 3 but hitting a marker in the twisting section leading to the back of the paddock put paid to his charge for the second podium spot in the small car class. Chris Hughes capitalised on his three clean runs to get his highest place in a club event to date. Nick Brownlee was sharing the EVO for the day and avoided all the markers to also post some good times. Although we think he could have gone a bit faster but Chris was sitting in the car with him and the starter overheard something said about that particular colour of white paint being very rare or something along those lines, we’re not quite sure so don’t take out word on that.

Gemma Bone confirmed that Geoff knew she had the keys to the Corolla and only just touched one of those nasty steel marker stakes in her first and second runs (we’re sure there was no damage so as long as you put it back in the same place in the garage Gemma, Geoff will never notice!). Michelle Reid provided the competition in the ladies class and made the most of the advantage of having driven the TeamRFR Corolla before while this was Gemma’s first outing in the red rocket.

Brent Sibley proved that number 13 is in no way bad luck taking out the big 2WD class with a clear 3 runs and showed good control despite the Escort wanting to spin the rear wheels all the way around the course. Stewart Bufton was lifting the inside front wheel in the Starlet 4AGE around some of the bends but we suspect soft suspension not the car trying to wheelie, it looked quite spectacular whichever it was. Groove McCallum spent a lot of his time spinning his wheels and in between putting on another show for the crowd, it was a good day for the whole McCallum family in the sunny countryside with his daughter impressed by Dad’s second place in the big 2WD class. John Weir’s Accord had a gearbox problem that stopped the car midway through his first pass in run 3 and the car was stopped for the day, an unfortunate breakdown as he was running 2nd in class at the time.

It was all on in the road car class with Andrew Diehl in the Legacy GT wagon throwing it about, the bang of one of the marker stakes on the left rear of the car could be heard in the pits at the start of the second lap of run 3 as he overshot a corner but chucked it in and had a go anyway. Usual overall contender John Beasley had a spin and then tagged a couple of markers so dropped down the order this time. Bruce Robertson in the Bond Equipe (a very rare piece of machinery) had a fun day out, the car attracting a bit of interest. Hayden Riddle was having mixed fortunes in his 323 GTX, another driver uncharacteristically hitting markers in two of his three runs, but he did enough to claim a class place nonetheless. The major scrap in the class was between Stuart and Greg MacIntosh, with both driving the same Mitsubishi Galant with aplomb, there was 5 seconds in it in favour of Stuart at the end of the day and 3rd overall to boot (not counting Sean Gray’s second entry).

Due to a slight mistake in data entry, the certificates didn’t adhere to the “only one entry counts” rule, but we’ll get that sorted out and the results that follow take that into account. Well done to all the place getters.

1st Sean Gray (EVO6) 5m28.97s
2nd Chris Hughes (EVO2) 5m43.75s
3rd Stuart MacIntosh (Galant) 5m49.08s

1st Sean Gray (EVO6) 5m28.97s
2nd Chris Hughes (EVO2) 5m43.75s
3rd Nick Brownlee (EVO2) 6m03.46s

2WD 1601+cc:
1st Brent Sibley (Escort) 6m14.94s
2nd Robert McCallum (Escort) 6m50.87s
3rd Gemma Bone (Corolla) 7m01.03s

2WD 1301-1600cc:
1st Stewart Bufton (Starlet 4AGE) 5m57.30s
2nd Andrew Bufton (Starlet 4AGE) 6m25.28s

2WD 0-1300cc:
1st Grant Goile (Corolla KE25) 5m49.73s
2nd David Fletcher (Corolla KE20) 6m01.71s
3rd Andy Reid (Corolla KE20) 6m10.00s

A huge thanks go to Don Mathias and Josh Marston for organising the event and laying out such a great course. Josh fulfilled the starter’s role and Don also did some course spotting, as did Grant Goile, thanks Grant. Shane Thornley saved the day by letting us use his paddock after the original venue became unavailable at the 11th hour, Shane also acted as course spotter so thanks for that. He had a ride in Sean Gray’s EVO on a fun run and was pretty happy about it. “Gotta get one of those” is pretty much a standard statement after a ride in a top 4WD! Simone Trezise did her usual fantastic job of documentation and acted as clerk of course for some of the day, Leigh Marston also took on clerk’s duties at one point and also acted as spotter out in the middle with Nick Marston, thanks. Michelle Reid had the hockey stick for a bit and Huri Timothy looked after logging the penalties that came flooding in on the Tait radios. Barry Columbus came out to catch up with some competitors and also filled spotter’s duties for some of the event, thanks Barry. Dave Fletcher worked the timing computer and took the van and the dunny back to town which is much appreciated. It was a fantastic event to end the year on, things ran on time, the weather was amazing, the paddock held up really well, and by the sounds of things everyone had a good time. See you all at the end of year prize giving!