Rakaia Zig Zag Rd, another of our regular roads we love to race. It’s 2.5km of tight, twisty, uphill banked corners opening up to a fast finish. Yet another awesome day in the rain! Check out the results below. Well done to our winners Matt Jansen 1st Overall, Graham Wilson 1st Class 1 0-1300cc, David Fahey 1st Class 2 1301-1600cc, Ross Teesdale 1st Class 3 1601+cc and Richard Baddock Class 4 4WD.
Zig Zag gravel action at Rakaia Gravel Sprint
In a season that has been warm and dry, the dice again rolled wet weather for the fourth event this year, when 33 gravel drivers turned up for the Autosport Clubs 2013 Rakaia Zig Zag Road Hillclimb on Sunday 21st September.
Rakaia Zig Zag Road is an apt name for the 3 km gravel road that travels uphill from the upper Rakaia River Bridge at the start of the Rakaia Gorge on the edge of the Southern Alps. The road has been used for gravel hilllclimbs for over 40 years and it has lost none of its challenge. There would be many tight battles among the field during three runs up the Zig Zag.
Matt Jansen and Michael Tall set the pace in the first run with 1min 33 second times. Jansen in his late model Impreza just edged out Tall’s Evo 4 by half a second. Next was Richard Baddock in his older Impreza who did his very first event on this road 18 months ago, 3 seconds back from Tall. Marlborough’s Richard Bateman was another half second back in fourth after run one, Bateman having competed in the Geraldine based Spring Rally the day before in his Evo8.
The local farmer has built a new fence along the side of much of the road and where once you could hang the back of the car over the edge, now the fence will take a tail light out, effectively making the road narrower, but giving a minor physiological barrier from the waiting big drops.
Robert McCallum (Groove) was the first to touch the new fence in run one, catching the right front corner and losing a couple of seconds and a front guard, to post 1min 48 in his Nissan FJ20 powered Mk2 Escort. Ross Teesdale then went quicker in his Turbo and Supercharged 4AGZE-T powered AE86, posting 1min 43 in his first run. Steve Leopold was next of the 2WD’s in his 4 Litre Lexus powered Mk2 Escort, just 1/10th behind McCallum. Sean Sands had his 1700cc Pushrod Mk2 Escort right on the pace with 1min 49, just ahead of Jimmy Hewlett’s MK2 BDA by a few hundredths of a second.
Grant Goile celebrated his birthday at the event and showed his hand early in his 1300cc 1970’s Corolla, beating home all the 1600 class cars in the first run. Graham Wilson did the same in his 1300 Suzuki twin cam powered Starlet, a little over a second behind Goile. David Fahey is effectively a rookie after 20 years away from the sport and wisely had conservative first run in his 4AGE powered Mk1 Escort. Fahey led the 1600 class first up.
The rain continued as the cars took on their second run up the Zig Zag. Tall took the initiative recording 1:31.8 to take over the lead from Jansen by just over one second. Bateman moved to third ahead of Baddock. Behind them a close group of cars were fighting for fifth, including Jason McConnell (Evo6), John Giltrap (Impreza) and Jansen’s brother Taylor, who was having a go in their Fathers Impreza 4 door.
Groove McCallum resumed his regular place at top of the 2WD standings in run two, dropping nearly 6 seconds to move just under one second ahead of Ross Teesdale. Leopold dropped 4 seconds to get with in one second of second, while there was little time left to be found for Sean Sands who held fourth. David Fahey moved ahead of the 1300’s and held the 1600 class lead ahead of Paul Cox (MR2) and Nigel Tyson (KE 70 Corolla) who were having a tight battle. Hamish Anderson also went up the hill but his time was not recorded and he did not do a re-run. Wilson got ahead of Goile in the 1300 Class while Matt Summerfield was a wee way back in third, driving his families Starlet.
It kept raining for run three, but the road held up well. Tall has had too many second places for his liking and put it all on the line in the last run. But Jansen was running his car un-restricted and would use his late model high tech car to good effect. Jansen also caught the fence during the day, but posted 1:30.14 in the final run to take the win from Tall by just 0.15 seconds. Bateman held third. With the top three not eligible for class prizes Baddock took 1st 4WD, ahead of David Clearwater (Impreza) and Jason McConnell.
Ross Teesdale was all smiles after he wrestled the 2WD class win from Groove McCallum in the last run by just 0.15 seconds, with Leopold claiming third of the 2WD open class cars another 1.5 seconds back. Sands held his impressive 4th place ahead of Hewlett who was having too much fun going sideways in his BDA. Anderson registered a 1min 50 time in run three, finishing second by one second to Fahey in the 1600 cc Class. Tyson was pleased to take third ahead of Cox. Wilson held the 1300cc class win ahead of Goile and Matt Summerfield who may not exactly cherish his third in class trophy.
Things went with out a hitch and the event was all over by 2pm. The battles will all resume in November when the Autosport Club runs the Mt Alexander Hillclimb.
Josh Marston at Rakaia Zig Zag Gravel Sprint in 2007 in his Subaru Impreza WRX
Carl Balani in his Mazda RX7 S1 13b Turbo tackling Zig Zag Rd in 2012