One of our most popular gravel sprints Auchenflower Rd Gravel Sprint gave drivers 8.7km of fast flowing, public road with twisty section in the middle to test their skills. There are three bridges, some fast straights and several high speed blind brows to provide a real challenge for drivers and cars. One of our longer sprints, Auchenflower Rd is a favourite for many of our local drivers who have driven it many times over the years. Situated just south of Sheffield, Canterbury it’s a wicked road with one of the fastest sections in our sprint series.
Congratulations to our overall winner Matt Summerfield and class winners Chris Herdman Class 1 0-1300cc, Josh Marston Class 2 1301-1600cc, Rob ‘Groove’ McCallum Class 3 1601+cc and Matt Penrose Class 4 4WD.
Matt Summerfield winner of the 2016 Auchenflower Rd Rally Sprint
Awesome photos by Kevin Corin and Allan Pritchard from Action Images. Get in touch with them for copies.
Awesome Action at Auchenflower Rd – by Ross Teesdale
A maxed out field of 60 drivers took on the Autosport Club’s 2016 running of the very popular and blisteringly fast Auchenflower Rd Gravel Sprint on Sunday 14th August. Run in the foot hills of the Southern Alps, 8.7 km’s would be driven in just over 4 minutes by the top 4WD crews. With lots of recent rain, but sunshine on the day, the road was hard packed with great grip and provided a variety of twisting and high speed challenges, along with several blind brows which would be taken at maximum speed.
The 4WD battle would be a fight between Matt Summerfield in his NZRC Impreza, Mike Tall having his first outing in his Evo powered Mirage and Matt Jansen in his Impreza. Tall and Summerfield had the pace on the field and went into the last run separated by just 1/10th of a second. Tall found another half a second, but Summerfield found more, to win the event by just over two seconds with a time for the 8.7 km’s of 4 mintues 03.8 seconds. Jansen took third, 3.3 seconds behind Tall. Others to put in fast drives included Autosport Club regulars Matt Penrose (WRX), Gary Hawkes (Evo9) along Job and Dave Quantock (sharing an Evo7) who finished 4th to 7th respectively. Also impressing was 8th placed Sheldon Bell who brought his Evo3 home 8th in one of his first drives on gravel.
The tightest battle and the biggest field was in the Unlimited 2WD class with 21 entrants. The fastest five drivers had all done battle in the snow and wet at Catlin’s Rally a week earlier and would arrive at Auchenflower Rd race fit and primed to resume the battle. Regan Ross had his Injected MK2 BDA Escort on the pace from the start, but would lose the fight to Robert McCallum’s Duratec Mk2 Escort as the day wore on. McCallum found some more time in the last of three runs at the road, to win the Unlimited 2WD class with 4.21:4, Ross taking second place two seconds back. 17-year-old Ari Pettigrew continued to build his reputation by running 3rd in class most of the day in his 318 BMW. Tony Gosling and Jeff Judd would ultimately jump over him in the last run to take third and fourth in class in their Mk2 BDA’s, with Pettigrew a few tenths back for 5th. Spectators described Pettigrew’s drive as being among the most impressive on the day and bravest under brakes by a margin.
Others to feature in the 2WD Top 10 finishing 6th through 10th respectively were Ross Teesdale in his turbo and supercharged AE86, Deane Buist in a high powered V8 Mk2 Escort, Andrew Sim in his 2 litre Fiesta, along with Australian resident but regular NZRC runner Justin Walker in his Mk2 BDA. Two time former NZRC Champion Brian Stokes took 10th in 2WD in another Mk2 BDA. Young competitor Chris McLean just missed the ten finishing 11th in his 2 litre Fiesta.
Josh Marston took on and won the 1600cc Class in an AE111 Toyota as he prepares to run his new AP4 Holden Barina which is being built for a full assault on the NZRC in 2017. Dave Fahey took second in class, another impressive drive by Fahey in his lightly developed Mk1 Escort. Hayden Spatcher took third in class as he continues to come to grips with his R2 1600 Fiesta, while fourth was an excellent effort by mid-aged rookie Alastair McLean in his near standard 1990’s Honda Civic. Mike Nokes also went well to take fifth in class in his AE92 Corolla.
Last but not least was the 1300c battle which was won by Chris Herdman in his Starlet, ahead of Rally Veteran Grant Goile in his Classic 1971 KE30 Corolla. Another strong drive from Neil Hetherington netted an impressive third in class in his KE70 Corolla in his rookie season. Steve Thompson also impressed getting his Datsun Sunny home in 4th of the 1300’s.
As he picked up his trophy Robert McCallum described the Auchenflower Rd venue as “the best sprint road in the world”. That may be a bit keen, but Canterbury can certainly claim to have some of the best roads and a large number of hard charging Rally competitors always eager to take each other on.