17 May – Hororata Autocross

It had rained and drizzled for a week before the Hororata Autocross. The grey skies above the competitors on the day signalled that the “damp” track would still be “damp” and as the indian file showed the course would be a tad on the slippery side. Shane Thornley had found a very good paddock though, the hard rocky base under the small layer of topsoil had made it so the rain had drained away leaving a solid surface just mm under the mud. By the third run there was some level of grip, and the slipperyness early on would mean a fair run for all. The course was anti-clockwise with a good mix of sweeping turns, a couple of hairpins, a slalom, and a long-ish back “straight”, just right for the conditions.

Due to some competitors with “special” requirements turning up a bit late the event was a few minutes behind getting started but with the indian file over quickly the first run started on time. Andrew Bufton was giving it heaps. In the first run he was going well until he overshot the hairpin at the end of the long sweeping “back straight” and spun up, backing over the outside corner marker earning him an extra 5s. Everyone else came through cleanly. Gemma Bone and Michelle Reid were the two ladies entered in the event and were half a second apart after run 1. Gavin Williams in his CRX topped the timesheet but only by 5 hundredths of the second from Matthew King making an impressive debut in the Autotech Lease WRX . Gavin kept his head in all day and drove a disciplined event to finish on top of the timesheets on every run and win the event. Congratulations and well done Gavin.

Nick Brownlee was getting used to running at number 13 (he got the same number at the last event he ran!) and was 5 hundredths of a second in front of the car’s owner Chris Hughes (who didn’t look at all dark about that) and continued to pip Chris by a narrow margin in every run. Brad Harris in the Lancer was going great guns, sitting in 4th overall. In the battle of the Pulsar GTiR’s Kieron Telford had a half second jump on Paul Jansen. The second run had a few more markers bite the dust, Matthew King struck one and got an extra 5s added to his time allowing Peter Abernethy also driving the Autotech lease WRX to leapfrog ahead of him. John Weir in the high revving Accord spun and hit one, and Shane Thornley hit the same marker as Andrew Bufton and broke the stake. Andy Reid drove like a man possessed, doing his best to emulate autocross great Grant Goile (conspicuous by his absence but overseas as we understand it) by going in just wide enough and straight on the exits, Reid closed the gap on 1300cc class leader David Fletcher. Gemma edged further ahead of Michelle in the ladies standings after the second run. Rodney Walls in the 1600cc MR2 was in second place in the road car class ahead of the supercharged version of the car run by Rex Webb and the Corolla of Craig McCullough. Paul Stanley’s unpainted very shiny new alloy flares on the Eccy didn’t make for better aerodynamics as some of the start crew suspected but they certainly add style, and Paul showed glimpses of that as he avoided the markers all day. Simon Bugnell was using the same Levin as Gemma Bone and showed a big improvement, lopping 11 seconds off his first time through. Matthew Jansen was getting used to this autocross caper really quickly, his second run time a huge 20 second improvement over his first run, and to top it off his third run time was competitive in his class.

The last run saw the competitors do two laps of the track, which was still in excellent condition, the hard base not rutting up at all. Bryan Hamilton in the Celica GT4 road car got off to a good start but hit a marker later in the course. Shane Thornley got a bit carried away on the back straight again (he wanted to hook third for a wee bit just to see what happened) and bunted the same marker on the outside of the hairpin again. Smoke coming from Andrew Bufton’s tyres at the now dry start line signalled his intentions in the next run and he did very well to keep it under control going well sideways at full noise around every turn until “that” marker at the hairpin at the end of the back straight claimed him again. A good spectacle in the absence of Groove McCallum, thanks Andrew! John “Tornado” Weir was having a great time trying to impersonate the TV ad where the dude in his new ute creates a whirlwind by pulling more than a couple of donuts, but unfortunately when the last run came the right hand driveshaft on the car parted company and it was going no further. Greg MacIntosh was having a fun day out, with consistent improvement throughout the day in the Lancer. Dwight Parlane and Doug Good were having a great scrap, with their total times less than a second apart going into run three and using the same car, all eyes were on them to see who would be “best of the rest”. Parlane came out the victor after a great run through the two laps saw him extend his lead over Good by 2 seconds. Gemma Bone sewed up ladies honours with a tidy run (avoiding a stall on the start line this time!). Peter Abernethy secured fourth overall and first 4WD. Brad Harris overdrove a wee bit, overshot “that” hairpin and had to reverse (avoiding the marker) and dropped down the timesheets.

We had quite a few new faces at the event, as it should be as autocrosses are a great environment to get into the sport, but to drive them fast is not as easy as it looks! Rhys Ellison had a most cost-effective day of motorsport, his Undy-500 Chevette certainly trying to look the part with a Peugeot WRC paint job, and making it through the day with no more smoke than normal coming from the car. Lance Donald hadn’t driven a competition car in anger for quite a number of seasons, and was having a barrel of fun in his newly acquired DX-4AGE Corolla. Ryan McDonald showed consistent improvement throughout the day in his Datsun 1200, Shane McKenzie in the Starlet also came to grips with the event throughout the day. Coming to grips with the monster RX7 V8 was always going to be a challenge in these conditions and avoiding the fences while keeping it pointing in the right direction was not out of reach for Peter Armstrong who piloted the beast around the course and avoided the markers all day.

The results were as follows:

1st Gavin Williams (CRX) 5m41.11s
2nd Dwight Parlane (CRX) 5m46.38s
3rd Doug Good (CRX) 5m49.29s

1st Peter Abernethy (WRX) 5m55.67s
2nd Matthew King (WRX) 5m57.47s
3rd Paul Jansen (Pulsar) 6m06.42s

2WD 1601+cc
1st Paul Stanley (Escort) 6m49.43s
2nd Peter Armstrong (RX7 V8) 7m08.93s

2WD 1301-1600cc
1st Dwight Parlane (CRX) 5m46.38s
2nd Doug Good (CRX) 5m49.29s
3rd Lance Donald (Corolla) 6m41.42s

2WD 0-1300cc
1st David Fletcher (Corolla) 6m10.49s
2nd Andy Reid (Corolla) 6m16.81s
3rd Shane Thornley (Starlet) 6m34.95s

Road Car
1st Gavin Williams (CRX) 5m41.11s
2nd Rodney Walls (MR2) 6m02.04s
3rd Rex Webb (MR2) 6m14.07s

Apologies go to Rex Webb who was entered in the wrong class, he should have been in the road car class and consequently missed out on getting his third place certificate at the prizegiving. Sorry again Rex! Also (and we’re not sure if this is PC or not but we don’t care, she deserves a certificate anyway!) missing a certificate at the prizegiving was Gemma Bone, who took out the ladies prize for the day.

Thanks go to John Weir for scrutineering, Michelle Reid, Huri Timothy and Kieron Telford for documentation, Shane Thornley for organising the paddock and helping set up the event, Josh Marston for being Clerk of Course, starter for the day, and organising the event and setting up the course, and David Fletcher for operating the timing equipment, helping set up the event, and being MC on the day. Organisers got more good ideas on how to run these events better in the future and a great day was had by all the competitors.