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Auchenflower Road Sprint makes a splash
Wet weather provided an extra challenge for the 30 car field at the recent Auchenflower Rd Gravel Sprint put on by Canterbury’s Autosport Club. Standing water on the inside of the corners, some slippery clay sections and three very slippery wooden bridges all added to the challenge along the 9.5km sprint course.
Competitors ranged from National Championship contenders Matt Jansen and Matt Summerfield in their Impreza’s, included Josh Marston in his new R2 Fiesta and brand new competitor, 14 year old school boy Harry Power who emulated Hayden Paddon’s early years by entering in a BMC Mini which is more than 3 times his age.
Jansen running first on the road set the benchmark in the first of three timed runs with a time of 4:19, some 7 seconds clear of Summerfield who was second first up. Michael Tall was next, three seconds back in the 2300cc Evo5 he took to runner up spot in the recent NZ Hillclimb Championships. Robert (Groove) McCallum was next outright, setting a blistering time in his Nissan FJ20 powered Group 4 Escort to clearly lead the 2WD open class after the first run. Marston was also fast in the 1600 cc R2 Fiesta to be next of the 2WD’s and well clear of a number of the 4WD drivers. Ross Teesdale also sat inside the top 10 in his Turbo and Supercharged AE86 Toyota, third 2WD after run one.
The rain did not let up while the second run at the road gave the drivers a chance to push their braking points out further. Jansen went 1.5 seconds quicker, Summerfield knocked 5 seconds off to get within 5 of Jansen, with Tall shaving 8 seconds off to be within half a second of Summerfield. It would all come down to the third and final run over the very wet road.
The road seemed to be getting more slippery as the cars lined up for their last run at the challenging course. Matt Jansen was too good, taking the win by just under seven seconds ahead of Summerfield. Tall held on to third, two more seconds back, while Gary Hawkes took 4th outright in his recently acquired Evo 9. Rob McCallum took a clear win in the over 1600cc 2WD class, ahead of Ross Teesdale, with Merv Hatcher taking third in class in his Classic Mitsubishi Starion.
Josh Marston was an equally clear winner in the under 1600cc class and 9th outright in the Fiesta, ahead of Gary Cowan’s AE86 which was followed home by Paul Cox in an MR2 Toyota. Grant Goile also took a clear win in the 1300cc class in his early 1970’s Corolla ahead of Leanne Jolly in a Starlet. Young Harry Power got his Mini home safely to take third in the up to 1300cc class.
Most of the cars went home straight, with the exception of Rodney Lang who put his Lancer through a farmers fence and had the organisers chasing sheep back in to the paddock. Ex Stock car racer Jason McConnell also had a couple of off’s in his GTIR Pulsar, but put in one clean run to take home seventh despite the off road excursions.
The next event for most of the teams will be the Hanmer Rally to be held on the 11th May. Earthquakes and snow have seen the Hanmer event cancelled the last three years in a row, the organisers are now hoping the 2010 route books can at last get some use.
Words by Ross Teesdale.