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Drivers like it fast at Auchenflower Rd in 2014
With close to 9 km’s of smooth gravel, three bridges, some fast straights and several high speed blind brows, Auchenflower Rd provides a real challenge for drivers and cars. To be on the pace you will need to attack some of the brows flat out in top gear. Thirty-six drivers took on the challenge at the Autosport Club’s Auchenflower Rd Gravel Sprint on 30th March. Most of the who’s who of Canterbury’s Rally Teams turned out for the event. Stumpy Holmes also made a guest appearance driving Garry Cowan’s AE86.
There was a lot of gravel on the road for the first practise run, meaning it was a good opportunity to ease into learning the road or to write pace notes if you wished. Matt Summerfield and Matt Jansen set the pace in the first timed run in their Impreza’s while Michael Tall had his Mitsubishi third at this stage, closely followed by David Clearwater in another Evo.
Deane Buist was sharing a drive in his brother Brent’s 1600 BDA Escort for the day but Brent pushed his braking too far in run one in the recently built car, hitting a bank that was clearly waiting over one of the brows and rolling the Mk2 Escort heavily. That meant Deane missed his drive, but the other Buist brother, Glenn had his 2 litre BDA entered so Deane switched to that.
Rob McCallum was fastest of the 2WD’s after run one, just ahead of Glenn Buist, while Ross Teesdale was the best of the non-BDA 2WD’s in third after the first run in his double boosted AE86. Garry Cowan led the 1600 class first up and Taylor Jansen again led the 1300 class in his Datsun 1200 coupe.
Times started to tumble in run two as the gravel continued to be swept off the road. Matt Jansen stayed at the top, just ahead of Summerfield, while Tall picked up the pace to be within 2.2 seconds of the lead. Gary Hawkes in his Evo 9 jumped up to 4th ahead of Tony Gosling who was having his first drive in his recently purchased Impreza.
In run two Deane Buist had his first run in Glenn’s 2 litre BDA and immediately took over the lead in the 2WD standings, ahead of McCallum and Glenn Buist. David Fahey took over the lead in the 1600 cc Class while Cowan had come to a halt with a detached coil wire. By the time they got the car back for Stumpy to take his turn, the run had been closed off, but Stumpy would complete his second run with no time recorded. Taylor Jansen stayed at the top of the 1300’s ahead of Grant Goile.
As usual it would be run three that decided the day’s results. By now the gravel was swept leaving a clean line, everyone had had a chance to learn the road and it was now time to put together a quick and clean run.
Matt Jansen held off the challengers to win the event with a time of 4.06:45 for a little under 9km’s. Michael Tall overtook Matt Summerfield to take second, by less than one second on 4.07.36, with Summerfield third on 4.08:34. With the top three not eligible for class placing’s Hawkes won the 4WD class in his Evo, ahead of Gosling and Phil Sloan in the their Impreza’s.
Robert McCallum managed to beat Deane Buist in the last run to win the 2WD open class in his Nissan FJ20 powered Mk2 Escort, with Deane second and Glenn Buist third in the same car. It is obvious Deane Buist can jump into anything and produce great times straight away, but it was also a good effort by Glenn Buist who had his first skid in anger in six years. As for Brent, he has a bit or work to do on his car, but you can bet the Palmside boys will pitch in to make it happen.
With 13 cars entered in the open 2WD class there were many battles among the field and while McCallum’s car isn’t really a BDA, it might as well be – so there was a big fight among the non ”‘BDA” drivers behind this top three. Wade Henshaw had his ex Kim Austin RX7 in the mix, along with Merv Hatcher’s Starion and Dillan Cameron’s 2 litre DX Corolla. Henshaw got within 1 second of Glenn Buist in the last run and was looking like going best of the rest, but was beaten by Ross Teesdale in his AE86 by quarter of a second in his last run. Hatcher claimed next in class after Henshaw. Sheldon Bell also brought himself into the mix driving Henshaw’s RX7, to finish ahead of Cameron.
What has to rate as an outstanding drive of the day came from David Fahey who took his 4AGE powered Mk1 Escort to 1st place in the 1600 cc Class. Fahey’s car has been running a standard engine, with the recent addition of just a new Kennelly inlet camshaft and still with a factory computer, Fahey was able to keep up with many of the more powerful open class cars. Cowan took second in the 1600 class ahead of Josh Mitchell who also used 4AGE power to take his Starlet to third in class ahead of Stumpy Holmes in the borrowed ex Toyota NZ, AE86.
Taylor Jansen is not at all shy driving his Datsun 1200 coupe and won the 1300 class ahead of Grant Goile in his KE30 Corolla, with Barry Deuart hard charging to third in his Datsun 120Y. Perhaps it was the bridge he hit here two years ago, or perhaps it was all the running around being Clerk of Course for the day, but Graham Wilson was not able to run with the top three in the 1300 class on this occasion, finishing fourth of the 1300’s ahead of Geoff Combe and Shane Thornley.
If you like it fast then Auchenflower Rd is the road for you. With the average speed of the winner in excess of 130 km/h, the bridges, brows and quite few sweeping twisty bits, everyone is looking forward to when the Autosport club again runs Auchenflower Rd next year.
Ross Teesdale – Club Captain (Photos by Jason Smith)