25 April – Hanmer Forest Sprint

Damn it was freezing at 8:30am (well, 8:45am if you’re Dave Fletcher who couldn’t start his van in the morning, probably left the boom-box on all night) when we all showed up to help at the forest gates. It took a while to get set up but it’s amazing what you can string together on the day with a bit of willing and able person-power. Help came in from all angles, and we were into it only a half hour or so late, and it was no less cold.

The road was pretty quick although the overnight snow melt and a few passing cars made it pretty muddy in places. The last bit after the hairpin to the finish was like the proverbial butcher’s apron. Royce Watson soon discovered this, the Corolla going off into the weeds and staying there until extricated. Dermot Martin started out where he’d left off the day before, tieing for first place after run 1 with a charging Hayden Paddon. Young Paddon got it back on run 2 and held on in run 3 to score his first event outright victory. Congratulations and great driving Hayden! Kieran Hall showed no lack of commitment in the Evo 5, chucking it into the first corner with gusto and coming out with a 2nd overall (on countback Dermot hesitates to add in 3rd overall). Les Summerfield was making the most of the day with a failing clutch getting into 4th overall. It eventually gave up the ghost and Andrea (who was sharing the car) missed out on a last run. Matt King had another good day (well, it’s not on it’s lid is it!) in the re-shelled WRX and got 5th. Leigh Marston was pretty disturbed that his new HSV Coupe 4 (and his wife) were nearly taken out by some lunatic speedster near the forest entrance and nevertheless piloted the WRX to 6th overall.

Gary Adcock had the big grunter TR7 V8 into 7th and first of the 2WD cars where he stayed all day, pretty impressive in the conditions. Andrew Sim was in 9th after the first run and 12th overall at the end of the day in the 1600cc FXGT, also reasonably on the case. We had a visitor from the north showing us he’s still on the case too in the BDA. Neil Allport was testing the car for the coming Otago Classic Rally, and as it was his first time in 20 years in an rear drive rally car on gravel he didn’t do too bad, in 11th after the first run and up to 8th by the end of proceedings. Another visitor, this time from out west, Tracey Mann was having a crack in RWD as well, the AE86 Levin looking pretty tidy through the slippy road and an 11th overall time scored.

Barry Varcoe only did two runs in the Evo 4 and was 9th followed by Darryl Campbell who ducked under the 3 minute barrier for the day and slipped into the top 10 in the Evo 1. Hayden Spatcher’s FXGT had the edge all day over John Weir’s Accord but it was close throughout for 13th and 14th, and Paul Jansen was liking the handling of his ex-Juddy WRX better than the Pulsar he’s been using until recently, coming home 15th overall. Pete Abernethy wasn’t feeling too flash but came out anyway, and proved he’s getting to grips really well with the 1500cc Starlet in 16th. Murray Lancaster had the 323 improve 5 seconds between runs, and Rex Ford in the 180B bettered that improvement by 2 seconds but didn’t quite do enough to catch Murray to jump a place in class C.

First of the small cars was Graham Wilson in the Suzuki twincam powered Starlet, recovering after a spin in run 2 on the first corner (captured on many a home video for prosterity) to take the class from rally class winner Bruce France. Shane Thornley had a ripper of a last run in the wee Starlet (it must’ve been the new paint being a bit lighter or something) improving a huge 10 seconds to wrestle 3rd in the class from Dave Fletcher in the Suzuki GTi, Fletcher having a bit of a mozza, stalling at the hairpin in run 2 and getting a bit loose trying too hard in run 3. Matt Jansen’s car lost power going uphill, and to make matters worse for himself he took Josh “Jinx” Marston on a ride and the Datto’s oil pressure gauge went to zero so they parked up (turned out it was a loose wire to the pressure sender).

In the ladies contest Andrea Summerfield drove the WRX and took out that prize, the 4WD proving a tad more handy in the conditions than Jennifer Spatcher’s 2WD entry. Great to see some competition for the ladies prize anyway, it is after all a family show. The rain and snow didn’t really put a damper on the day, although the idiot doing way over the speed limit who nearly took out our now quite shaken rally secretary and assistant clerk of course nearly did.

Click here for the results

Thanks to Dermot Martin, Andrew Sim, Tony Witheridge, and Dave Fletcher for making things happen on the day. Pre-event documentation thanks to Simone Trezise, on event documentation thanks to Nicole France, Michelle Reid, and Huri Timothy. Scrutineering thanks to Richard Towse, John Weir and Royce Watson. Leigh Marston for being Clerk (that’s pronounced “Clark”) of the Course, Kieron Telford did a faultless job of getting the results out, thanks Kieron. Thanks to Josh Marston for towing the dunny back to town. Thanks to Graham Wilson and the crew from Rangiora Rotary for marshalling and finish control, and thanks to Barry Deuart and Aaron Scott for standing out in the cold all event at the start control. Aaron kept his fingers warm by using a very good countdown technique. And a special thanks to our very understanding Steward, Barry Higham, and to the Hot Springs Hotel for their support of the event.