It was an early start on a fine but pretty frosty morning for the crews making the trip north to the Hurunui and this fantastic bit of public road. With the club van’s heater being “sub-optimal” Richard Towse had a hard time fending off the frostbite as he towed the dunny north in the dark. Don Mathias had taken the bull by the balls and by the time the dunny arrived on site at 7:30a.m. the road closure signs were up. WIth the course all taped off, signs up, arrowed and everything ready to go it was just luck that the timing transmitter failed, no pulses were being sent back to the control van. Frantic testing of the finish transmitter close to the start, battery changes and wiring checks were to no avail so the finish marshals were enlisted for a day of pretending to be the finish beam. It’s almost as good results-wise but a heck of a tough job for the timing crew, Tony Witheridge did a fine job of keeping things on the level there. A big field of 39 competitors had turned out and the indian file showed up a road in good nick with some varying surface conditions (and that’s counting the ice too!). Josh Marston withdrew his entry at documentation after his car suffered a bent valve at the Ashburton Car Club’s Taumutu Sprint the previous day. Also spectating and servicing for the day was Ben Pankhurst who rolled his newly repowered and repainted RX7 at RATEC’s Limeworks Road sprint the previous weekend. It was a shame those boys had to miss this event.
Deane Buist had Fred Merkin’s “yes the car is for sale” left hand drive WRX out for a blat, and boy did it blat alright. Rocky in the co-pilot’s seat had to remind Deane to watch what side of the bridges he lined up with! The configuration of the car didn’t seem to bother him as he led the event from the get-go, was beaten in run 2 by Glen ‘Bart’ Simpson but took it back in run 3. Regan Ross took advantage of a missed time in run 3 to shave over 6 seconds off his run 2 time to take second overall and 2nd 4WD. Bart was driving the Autotech lease Impreza and commented how quick it got up and went, and he got up and went with third overall and third in class in a 18 second improvement throughout the day, you’ve gotta be happy with that. Ryan Berry had a white EVO out for a skid, and cranked into 4th overall, and another Evo was in the hands of young Brad Harris who scorched through the course in his first gravel event to take the “most improved rookie” trophy and got 5th overall in the process. Leigh Marston was saving the Impreza for the coming rallies and was out to get some in-car time and had a trouble-free run into 6th.
The 2WD class was again interesting, Jeff Judd had the BDA in full flight as the after match photos showed, he was first 2WD home although he was only one-tenth of a second ahead of a flying Tony Morrison. Morrison was driving the rear-engined 1600cc VTEC Accord to the limit, 5th overall after run 2 and only just pipped into 8th overall at the end, his was “drive of the day”. Brent Rawstron drove the Rossendale BDA into 9th overall, with a fair smile on his dial, and on those of his various passengers for the event. Les Summerfield had some issues in the WRX and rounded out the top 10. Chris Hughes, fresh off his overall win in the Limeworks Road sprint put in some good times in 11th overall. Wade Henshaw didn’t take the final run due to gearbox problems with the RX7 but enjoyed his day skidding on the gravel and took third in class and 12th overall. Steve Carr’s RX7 wasn’t far behind Henshaw and according to the driver needs a bit more power, even though it was digging trenches with the driving wheels at the start line after taking off second gear, it was a good run into 13th overall for the man from Waipara. Robert McCallum had a bit of an ordinary day after is win at Mount Thomas although the big thumbs up when returning past the start line signalled he was happy with the day’s skidding. Brent Buist had borrowed Brent Tiney’s twincam Mk1 Escort and put on a good show. Geoff Bone was back in his Corolla, this event last year was his first in the car and this time a 9 second improvement throughout the day. Stewart Bufton had a collision with a fence in the first run, punting the bumper and some bodywork in the wee Starlet but came back to finish second in the 1600 class.
Things got interesting when spectators started turning up by helicopter! This is what happens when you put an ad in the press so thank Don Mathias for raising our profile. “I might take that up” mused Dermot, you could see him thinking about trading in the Toureg. The VW is probably more reliable than a Robinson whirly-bird, but we all want him to prove otherwise, but only if he gives us a ride.. .. imagine the possibilities for setting up events, the dunny could arrive by chopper to save the van getting speeding tickets for towing at 100kph (bummer Richard!).
Stephen Petersen ran off with the small car class, his EP71 Starlet sounding pretty good all day and coming home 18th overall. Ben Johnson in the FWD Pulsar knocked 6 seconds off his run one time to claim 19th spot. Fred Merkin in 20th overall was sharing the car with Wade Henshaw and managed to get all his runs in befrore the gearbox problems developed. Geoff Hughes was another sharing a car, the EVO2 of Chris to be precise, and first on the road had to be a bit of a challenge in the first run and he showed fantastic improvement between that and his last run to be in 21st overall at the end of the day. Dave Fletcher was doing the timing while Tony took a ride, and on his break managed to bring the KE20 home in second in the small cars and 22nd overall, just pipping a charging 120Y of Barry Deuart who was less than half a second in arrears. Andrew Bufton was having fun, finishing just behind Deuart and Grant Restall was right on his tail, the third spot in the 1600 class went right to the wire. Brent Tiney was a whisker short of the two ahead in his Escort twincam, taking 26th overall. Andy Reid had a bit of a moment in the icy/wet mid part of the course but came back hard to challenge for third in class, not quite getting it but having fun in 27th overall.
Paul Jansen’s Pulsar GTiR is still looking and sounding good and he was having a good battle all day with the Evo of Darryl Campbell. Brent Sibley trailered the Spook Escort after run 2 with a blown gearbox. Jonathan Bradshaw copped a speeding tax notice on the way to the event and translated his frustration into a 7 second improvement on the course over the day in the Starlet. John Weir missed run 2 due to mechanical problems in the Accord and trying to make up time had a massive spin in run 3 while in the dark corner that caught out Andy Reid earlier. Peter Quinn had fixed up the AE86 after it’s wee off road excursion at Southland and sneaked in ahead of Kieron Telford’s Pulsar. Shane Thornley was all smiles, although the Starlet driver had a couple of worrying moments as it was his first time trying pace notes and things went a bit awry when the car was going a bit slower than the notes were. Rex Ford’s Datsun 180B was only a sliver of time off Thornley and Matt Jansen was out for his second ever gravel event and got the car home in one piece. Geoff Douch turned out in a Vauxhall Viva, it’s been a while since we’ve seen one of those on the gravel, and rounded out the timesheets after a fun day. Bruce France unfortunately suffered terminal differential failure, the Starlet clattering to a halt just after the start line in run 1, and he was a passenger for the rest of the day.
With radio traffic sometimes getting in the way of getting a “now!” from the finish a few people were due re-runs, some opting not to take them as time was getting on (thanks again guys!). The event wound up just before the permit ran out, and most everyone was smiling when the cars were loaded and a good crowd at the pub enjoyed the prizegiving. They make great fries and burgers at the Greta Valley Tavern. The results were as follows:
Overall and 4WD
1st Deane Buist (WRX) 2m39.98s
2nd Regan Ross (WRX) 2m41.97s
3rd Glen Simpson (WRX) 2m42.29s
1st Jeff Judd (Escort RS1800) 2m48.67s
2nd Brent Rawstron(Escort RS1800) 2m49.05s
3rd Wade Henshaw (RX7) 2m51.19s
1st Tony Morrison (Accord) 2m48.77s
2nd Stewart Bufton (Starlet) 2m56.85s
3rd Andrew Bufton (Starlet) 3m04.43s
1st Stephen Petersen (Starlet EP71) 2m57.23s
2nd David Fletcher (Corolla KE20) 3m03.60s
3rd Barry Deuart (Datsun 120Y) 3m04.09s
Don’t believe all the DNS and DNF’s, they were mostly missed times.
A full transcript of the results is available by clicking here (PDF file, open in Adobe Acrobat Reader).
Thanks to Don Mathias for organising the event, Leigh Marston and Richard Towse for being Clerks of Course, and helping with setting up and taking down the event, and Richard also towed the dunny. David Fletcher for seeing to the safety plan and helping set up and timing, Tony Witheridge for helping set up/take down and a great job of timing on the day. Daniel Mathais for helping set up, Josh Marston and Chris Hughes for helping set up and take down the event, John Weir and Les Summerfield for scrutineering, Michelle Reid, and Huri Timothy for documentation, Dermot Martin for being the starter and helping with packing up, and Derek Simpson for being recovery vehicle and course clearance car. The marshals from Rangiora Rotary organised by Graham Wilson did another great job of ensuring event safety and finish line timing. A big thanks to St. John for their first aid staff, and to Barry Voss for travelling from Blenheim to be Steward on the day.