It was a fine, sunny, and eventful day at the Mt. Alexander sprint this year. A good turnout or 42 entries got to make the most of the sunshine as there were a number of delays early in the day. A broken connector in the timing equipment held up the first run and so the crew resorted to rally timing while the problem was worked on. Luckily it was fixed just before the restarted cars made it through the course, and the repair worked well for the rest of the day, and things ticked along nicely.
Just into run 1 Matt King rolled the Autotech lease WRX in the twisty mid-section of the course and the event was red flagged while the car was righted and dragged off the road. Phil Sloan had a couple of punctures in the Legacy but was back in action for the next two runs. Brent Collins set a great time in the Omega in run 1 to be fastest but pulled over in run 2 and didn’t return to the event for the final pass. Josh Marston missed the second ford and put the corner of the Starlet into the ditch and came to a stop, the bent steering meaning a retirement for the day unfortunately for both himself and brother Nick who was sharing the car. Some speculation was that this was carefully calculated retribution for Nick lunching the motor at Leeston, however Josh assures us that he would not waste an entry fee in this manner when he has had plenty of retribution for free. Paul Jansen trailered the GTiR after run 1 with some sort of exhaust problem, and at this point we don’t know if Matt is gloating or not about setting a quicker time in the Datto 1200. Andrea Summerfield was to share the Autotech WRX but with it out of action jumped into the blue Impreza and got three runs in, unfortunately a bit of trouble off the line stopping any improvement in run 3 after 10 seconds of gain between runs 1 and 2.
Spectators are still talking about Deane Buist’s big moment in run 1, the BDA stepping out on a right hander in the twisty bit and riding up the bank on the inside onto two wheels and nearly rolling. He survived, recovered well, and finished second in the big 2WD class to a flying Jeff Judd who was third overall in the black BDA. Crusty Buist fondly remembered his incident on the bridge of a couple of years back and not wanting to scare the bridge again and in the interest of keeping the locals on side (we don’t want the bridge packing up and leaving) was holding back slightly, and Bert got him by a second to take third in the big 2WDs. Leigh Marston showed the STi is getting sorted, putting up a great time in run 2 with second fastest. Brad Harris surprised a few by setting the quickest time on the second run.
Chris Hughes in the Evo 2 and Fred Merkin in the WRX were locked together on the scorecards after run 2, Hughes pulled out a bit of a gap in run three to come in 14th overall. Gary Hawkes in the Eccy was only a smidgen ahead of Hughes when all was done and dusted, after having a good day with the tail out as usual. Brent Sibley had the 4 door Escort going well, and climbed up the scorecards this time into 21st overall. Brent Rawstron’s BDA developed a missfire and didn’t sound too healthy as he took off for run 2. It was a shame to see the car trailered after that. Geoff Hughes was sharing the Evo for the event and improved well throughout the day. Brent Tiney in the Escort twincam posted nearly identical times in runs 2 and 3 having improved just over 12 seconds between the first and second tests. John Weir was giving it heaps off the line, the launch control in the Accord working well with the car hooking up great, and scoring third in the mid-sized class. Things were going Andrew Sim’s way in that class even before Hayden Paddon’s car decided to give trouble. Unfortunately traveling from Geraldine for the event and entering twice to take sponsors for rides didn’t go well for the Mainland 1600cc champion.
We had quite a few travellers at the event aside from those mentioned above with Richard Bethune coming up from Dunedin in the left hook BDA Escort, Bert providing some pointers from the co-pilots seat throughout the day. Murray Lancaster from the northern part of the island improved well throughout the event in the RWD 323. Members from other clubs also included Darryl Campbell in the Evo who improved 13 seconds between the second and final tests after a DNF in run 1, and Ian Latham in the 1600 Escort chalked up 13 seconds of gain throughout the three runs, running under his TR Register membership. Pete Abernethy and Paul Cox were close in their battle for 6th and 7th in the mid-sized class, the former coming out on top in that contest by only half a second. Rex Ford in the 180B and Lance Donald in the Corolla DX were another pair running close all day, no closer than 6 hundredths of a second after the first run though as Ford pulled out a bit of a lead throughout the event..
In the small engined battle Stephen Petersen took class honours by three seconds from a cranking Barry Deuart, with Grant Goile back in the good ol’ KE25 only a second behind. Graham Wilson was also only a second behind Goile, a good drive considering this tricky bit of road was practically new to him. Ryan McDonald did well improving 20 seconds over the event to pip David Fletcher by a tenth of a second, Fletcher driving his front skidder Suzuki Gti for the very first time.
Carl Vaughan was entertaining the spectators in the valley as well as at the finish line, coming around the corner after the finish really hot and putting the rear of the Evo over the bank! He survived to post a time that until the last run of the day was looking at being the winner. Les Summerfield’s day wasn’t going too well. A mistime and a missed run and various other things going on meant he only recorded two times out of his two entries. In his final run, last car on the road for the day, he had a blinder, and pipped Carl Vaughan by 17 hundredths of a second to take the event win. Willie at the Waipara Hotel provided an excellent venue for the event prizegiving and sponsored the schooner glass trophies. The burgers were superb and the beer tasted good, especially for the organisers who had been through quite a trying day.
1st Les Summerfield (WRX) 2m45.37s
2nd Carl Vaughan (Evo) 2m45.54s
3rd Jeff Judd (Escort) 2m46.85s
1st Les Summerfield (WRX) 2m45.37s
2nd Carl Vaughan (Evo) 2m45.54s
3rd Brad Harris (Evo) 2m47.78s
1st Jeff Judd (Escort) 2m46.85s
2nd Deane Buist (Escort) 2m47.79s
3rd Brent Buist (Escort) 2m49.98s
1st Andrew Sim (Corolla) 2m54.92s
2nd Hayden Paddon (Levin) 2m57.13s
3rd John Weir (Accord) 3m05.48s
1st Stephen Petersen (Starlet EP71) 3m06.07s
2nd Barry Deuart (Datsun 120Y) 3m09.26s
3rd Grant Goile (Corolla) 3m10.91s
Thanks go to Richard Towse for organising, C of C duties, timing, and driving the club van and dunny; Andrew Sim for organising, and assistant C of C duties; David Fletcher for organising, timing, and paperwork; Michelle Reid and Nic Mulholland for documentation; Les Summerfield, Gary Hawkes and John Weir for scrutineering; Craig Millar for resident visiting, on the day help, and organising the prizegiving, Deane Buist and Dermot Martin for helping set up; Leigh, Josh, and Nick Marston, along with Chris Hughes and Nick Brownlee for helping pack up, St. John for first aid, and Derek Simpson for another stirling job being starter all day and recovery vehicle. A big vote of thanks to Graham Wilson and the marshals from Rangiora Rotary who again provided excellent help with running the event. Finally thanks to the residents and to the Waipara Hotel for supporting the event.