Wed, 19 Jun 2019 - Paddon going all out at South Canterbury 

Hyundai rally driver Hayden Paddon will be going all out at this Saturday’s one-day South Canterbury Rally with Samantha Gray, another Timaru local, back in the co-driver’s seat of the Hyundai i20 AP4.

Paddon is originally from Geraldine so this is his ‘home’ rally and one he enjoys a great deal. He plans to up the pace he showed last year where he and John Kennard won the event by a margin of nearly five minutes.

The event run by the South Canterbury Car Club is the fourth round of the New Zealand Rally Championship, but as Paddon has not entered the championship this year, he is entered for this rally in the all-comers category. “It’s been a while since an event hasn’t counted towards a championship, but it doesn’t change anything about how we approach things or the overall results. The target is always to win which will be no different this weekend.”

This is the last rally for the current Hyundai AP4 car before it is converted to hillclimb spec, so the Paddon Rallysport crew has made some refinements. “We have increased the power a little and changed the gear ratios for the super-fast stages around Timaru. We learnt some good things about the car there last year so have worked on improving those areas,” says Paddon who’s looking forward to putting on a good show for spectators and keep his high-speed driving skills sharp.

Being a one-day rally, the South Canterbury event also has only one day of reconnaissance with just one pass through each of the 12 special stages. “Having a one pass recce certainly adds to the challenge of trying to get all the info on one pass,” says Paddon, “especially as half the stages are new this year compared to last year, adding extra importance to this aspect.”

For Gray, writing the pace notes will be her biggest challenge for the weekend. “We will be writing notes from scratch on the majority of the stages, so I have just one chance to write down everything Hayden says. A few stages have repeated sections from last year which I have written out into my own language from John's notes so for those sections we can adjust the notes according to road conditions this year. As allowed under the regulations, we will video the stages during recce so we can go over them on Friday night to make any final adjustments.”

Gray is thrilled to have the chance to get back into Paddon’s Hyundai. “I am very grateful to all the team and sponsors who have given me another opportunity to co-drive for Hayden. I am looking forward to being able to use the knowledge I learnt at Whangarei, and continue to learn and improve on new skills.”

The 22 June running of the Rally of South Canterbury features closed gravel roads to the south, inland and north of Timaru, including some infamous stages from years gone by. The event uses Levels Raceway as its base, with two service breaks in nearby Fairlie. The 12 special stages cover 199.7 competitive kilometres with Paddon, as the number one seed, scheduled to start the first stage at 7.25am on Saturday morning in what are expected to be frosty conditions. The rally wraps up with a mid-afternoon tarmac dash around Levels Raceway – which is always fun for competitors running on used gravel tyres. The car club then hosts prizegiving at the Caroline Bay hall in Timaru that evening.

Thu, 6 Jun 2019 - Sheehan goes close in one-handed battle

Queenstown’s Mike Sheehan has gone close to an unlikely victory at the third round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the Lone Star Rally Canterbury, held over the weekend.

“Sheehan suffered torn ligaments in his right thumb a week before the event after an accident during warm-up at his son’s rugby game saw him spend half a day in hospital suspecting the worst. Whilst determined to make the event, Sheehan knew he wouldn’t be able to perform at full speed.”

Having struggled through the opening two stages, Sheehan and co-driver Glenn Goldring were handed a life-line in stage three when their rivals, Robbie and Amy Stokes, punctured, losing three minutes. With a lead of a minute and a half to defend over four stages, Sheehan knew he would struggle but grimaced through the pain to take the battle on.

Heading to the final stage, Sheehan had the Truck Moves Ford Fiesta R2 26.4 seconds ahead of his rivals. Just to add to the challenge, that final stage would be held in complete darkness. Sheehan gave as much as he could but would come up 16 seconds shy after Stokes set a storming time.

“Hats off to Robbie, his effort all day and in the final stage especially was top notch. You never wish a problem upon your rivals, but as we were running almost literally with one hand tied behind our back, we had to make the most of the opportunity and nearly got there,” says Sheehan. “Unfortunately it was only in some of the faster corners we could actually commit, anything more just put too much pressure on the thumb. But at the end of the day the championship is main game and we’re still well on target for that, so it wasn’t a complete disaster, albeit a bit frustrating to know we could’ve been going a lot faster.”

The Sheehans Motorsport team now turn their attention to the Stadium Finance South Canterbury Rally on June 22, where they will start with a 26 point lead. “The team would also like to acknowledge the amazing amount of assistance they received from Speedy Signs Queenstown, Frankton Automotive, and Frankton Tyres Services prior to the event. “Without them going above and beyond, we were struggling to get all the prep done in the last days before the event. A massive thank you goes to these fantastic companies!!"

Tue, 4 Jun 2019 - Gilloes and Pilcher take class lead in NZ Rally Championship

Toyota crew Andy Gillies and co-driver Nathan Pilcher made the podium for the third rally in a row over the weekend in the Canterbury Rally, taking second in class despite it being their first time together competing in forest and night stages.

The pair enjoyed a virtually trouble free run after overcoming a broken alternator bolt on the first stage.

The Gillies and Pilcher duo - who come from Otago and Auckland respectively - now sit at the head of the Category 5B table with a 12 point lead after three rounds of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the only crew in the class to have completed all three of the rallies.

"The most challenging part was the unknown with the weather," said a delighted Gilles afterwards. "Unfortunately the organisers had to cut the first stage short by about 18km in the forestry as well as the whole of another stage. Luckily though the roads we did use were in surprisingly good condition which made for great rallying. Heading into the rally we knew we just had to finish and that was our aim, so it was very rewarding to get a clean run and come home in second place."

Co-driver Pilcher had been cautious about his first run on night stages, but the crew were able to maintain their position. "The night stages made for a challenging and absorbing experience," he explained. "Having just run SS6 in the daylight before we ran it in the dark, it made it a bit more predictable but at the same time we had to focus on remaining cautious. We had a good gap on the third place crew and we knew there was no way we could catch Andy Martin ahead."

Although they now lead the class half way through the six round championship, Pilcher believes the crew is only just scratching the surface of their potential as a driver/co-driver combination and that of the ex-Chris Paddon Toyota AE85 Levin.

"Every time we head out in the car we learn something new." he added. "Andy tried a new tyre package on the car which he liked and which made a big improvement. Looking at our times we certainly made massive improvements since the last time Andy was here so that's extremely positive as we gel as a team and unlock more of the potential of the car."

Gillies and Pilcher's Commercial Hire NZ Toyota Levin is also supported by ENZED, Total Lubricants, Wurth NZ, Wet&Forget, MG Minerals, Superfinishing NZ, Arrowtown Bakery, Base Contracting, Brian Scott Motors and Prestige Commercial Vehicles. The team now heads to the South Canterbury Rally later this month before heading north again for the Rally Coromandel in August. The season then has a free September before concluding with Rally Waitomo in October.

Mon, 3 Jun 2019 - Subaru’s Hunt makes it three from three NZRC wins

Subaru brand ambassador Ben Hunt has now scored a hat-trick of round wins in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) after producing a masterful victory at the Lone Star Rally Canterbury yesterday.

Powering his Subaru WRX STI through the seven stages with co-driver Tony Rawstorn, they won every one of them, which hands Hunt a huge 42-point advantage over local driver and last year’s event winner Josh Marston in the overall championship standings. Marston and co-driver Andrew Graves (Holden Barina AP4) finished 1min:08secs behind Hunt and Rawstorn– while another Canterbury-based driver Job Quantock and co-driver Grant Marra completed the podium in their Skoda AP4.

“I think this is one of the few times we’ve ever clean-swept the stage wins, so that’s always an awesome feeling. Playing the long day back in my head last night, made it hard to go to sleep! There were times when there were only a few seconds between us and the other teams, which made for some great battles throughout the rally,” Hunt says.

Despite a threatening forecast, the heavy rain, cold winds and snow did not materialise and instead, the public roads and forest passes north of Christchurch were hard-packed. Organisers did have to cancel one stage and shorten another due to the road conditions, but it didn’t dim Hunt’s enjoyment of the event.

“I really liked the stages going north towards Cheviot and Amberley, which we haven’t done for a few years. It was also fun to fix the Hella lights to the Subaru for the final stage in Ashley Forest and drive at night,” Hunt says.

Although he now has a commanding lead in the NZRC – after winning the national championship category at Otago and Whangarei - Hunt won’t be buttoning off in his Subaru WRX STI for the final three rallies.

“We will still keep pushing to finish strongly - nothing will change there. We will just keep doing our thing, with an eye on winning the championship.”

The NZRC returns to the South Island in three weeks for Rally South Canterbury, before heading to the North Island for the final two rounds.

Fri, 31 May 2019 - Confidence with caution for Gillies and Pilcher

Toyota Levin crew Andy Gillies and Nathan Pilcher are cautiously optimistic ahead of the Canterbury Rally as they look to challenge for the points lead in their class in this year's Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

Gillies and Pilcher currently sit second in their class - Category 5B - after two rounds of the championship in Otago and Whangarei. It's the duo's first full season together after restoring the ex-Chris Paddon Toyota AE85 Levin with the help of the team's title sponsor Commercial Hire NZ. Gillies has competed on the combination of country and forest roads before, but it's the first time on the event for co-driver Pilcher.

"It's been a couple of years since I competed in Canterbury last and I am expecting the roads to be good," explained Gillies. "The forestry elements appear to be the main arterial routes in the forest which should mean they are well compacted but they may cut up easily and with a bit of rain it can become very slippery. So we'll definitely have one eye on the weather as all the crews will of course."

Pilcher says there are plenty of challenges for a navigator making their Canterbury debut, particularly the stages after dark.

"For me as a co-driver I think that the night stages are going to prove the biggest challenge as being towards the back of the field means we will spend a bit more time in the night so we will have to learn to work with it as best as we can," he said. "Luckily the other competitors in our class are seeded around the same area on the road so the conditions should be similar for all of us.

"Having said all of that, we aimed to be consistent this season and it's really paying off," added Pilcher. "We only need to do this round and the final given the championship structure but we are taking the opportunity to compete in more rallies to grow as a team and get faster every time we get in the car. Each rally we have always reminded ourselves that it won't be won in the first stage but can certainly be lost.

"We aren't focused on being the fastest but more about being confident in the car and being faster against ourselves. That's the strategy we have to get closer to the top and right now it's working well for us."

Gilles said the duo had surprised themselves with how they had gelled together in the first two events, commenting: "Our consistency has been our biggest surprise with two third placed finishes at the first two rounds. We are hoping to carry this on but it would also be nice to have a set of podium finishes eventually before end of the championship!

"We have also been surprised with our pace this championship compared to previous years but the change of car, me doing other events between rallies and the knowledge Nathan gained at this year’s Rally New Zealand Co-Drivers academy has bought the added speed to the results this year. It's definitely a cautious game on for us ahead of the weekend and we're looking forward to it immensely."

Gillies and Pilcher's Commercial Hire NZ Toyota Levin is also supported by ENZED, Total Lubricants, Wurth NZ, Wet&Forget, MG Minerals, Superfinishing NZ, Arrowtown Bakery, Base Contracting, Brian Scott Motors and Prestige Commercial Vehicles. After round three of the championship in Canterbury this weekend, the team heads to the South Canterbury Rally later in June before heading north again for the Rally Coromandel in August. The season then has a free September before concluding with Rally Waitomo in October.

Fri, 31 May 2019 - Sheehan looks to defend lead at Canterbury

Queenstown’s Mike Sheehan will be looking to bank more points to defend his lead at the third round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship this weekend, the Lone Star Rally Canterbury.

Sheehan has recorded a first and a second placed finish in the FIA two-wheel drive class at the two rounds so far, held in Otago and Whangarei, which has left him with a 30-point lead. With the two two-day rallies done and dusted and four one day rallies left with less bonus points available, Sheehan knows a series of second placed finishes across the remainder of the season will deliver him the title.

While his focus is on scoring points, Sheehan and co-driver Glenn Goldring continue to chase more outright speed, which included a driver training session earlier this week with former national champion and Junior World Rally Championship competitor David Holder. This included day and night driving, with the Canterbury event also featuring two forest stages held under the cover of darkness.

While Sheehan contested the event last year, this year sees the addition of public road stages through the middle of the day as opposed to last year’s forestry only event.

“We’re pretty pumped and ready to go for this weekend, it was really good to have some training with Dave and I learnt a lot about both my driving and the car,” says Sheehan. “It will be great to get out on the public roads, I’ve heard some really good things, but we also know our way through the forest.”

The Lone Star Rally Canterbury gets underway with a ceremonial start outside the Lone Star in Manchester Street, Christchurch, from 5pm on Saturday. The following day, teams will tackle 162 kilometres of special stages, travelling as far north as Cheviot, before returning to the ceremonial finish at Lone Star from 7:14pm.

Fri, 31 May 2019 - Thomson ready for home rally challenge

Christchurch’s Dylan Thomson is ready to take on his home rally, the Lone Star Rally Canterbury, which runs this weekend as the third round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

Thomson and co-driver Amy Hudson have made large gains since stepping up to the outright four-wheel drive class in the Specialised Auto Services Subaru Impreza STI, their fifth placed finish earning them the Dunlop drive of the rally.

Although the rally is a home event for Thomson, his short rallying career to date means half of the special stages that will be run on public roads north of Christchurch as far north as Cheviot will be completely new to him.

Entering the season with no expectations other than to learn the new car, Thomson sits a pleasantly surprising sixth in the points standings, although he still maintains that the season is about learning a four-wheel drive car rather than chasing a strong result.

“It will be a good rally for us to continue our learning curve in the Specialised Auto Services Subaru as we’ve got a mixture of roads we believe are quite fast on the public roads and then the famous roads in the Ashley Forest,” says Thomson. “I think we’ve got a bit of an ace up our sleeve with the Dunlop tyres too, including a free set for the drive of the rally at Whangarei, so a huge thanks to them for that.”

The Lone Star Rally Canterbury gets underway with a ceremonial start outside the Lone Star in Manchester Street, Christchurch, from 5pm on Saturday. The following day, teams will tackle 162 kilometres of special stages, travelling as far north as Cheviot, before returning to the ceremonial finish at Lone Star from 7:14pm.

Dylan Thomson Rallysport’s campaign is supported by Total Lubricants, Riordan and West Transport Pukekohe, Drew + Accounting, Harrier Signs, Specialised Auto Services, Steelrite Framing, LJ Hooker, Fowler Homes South Auckland and New Zealand, AA Autocentre Hornby, Jivan Produce, Dunlop, Dixcel and Braketech.

Fri, 31 May 2019 - Campbell looks for solid points haul at Canterbury

Tauranga’s Phil Campbell heads to the third round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the Lone Star Rally Canterbury, looking to boost himself back towards the front of the national championship standings.

Campbell made a great start to the season, coming home third at the season opening Otago Rally and was well in the hunt to repeat that podium finish after the opening day, but an unfortunate clutch problem saw him retire at the start of the second day. That would see him drop to seventh in the standings, although just 20 points away from second place.

The Christchurch-based event has offered up mixed results for Campbell and his team, with a podium finish mixed in with a couple of failures to make the finish. Last year saw a troubled debut for the team’s new Ford Fiesta AP4, which resulted in engine failure after four stages.

This year, with a season under their belt and a change in event format, Campbell is confident he and co-driver Mal Peden can stand on the podium again. The event will offer up plenty of challenges, with a mixture of fast flowing public roads, forestry roads and even a pair of night stages.

“It’s certainly going to be a challenging event, thankfully we love public roads and we’ve done plenty of forest driving at the local TECT park as well. We took the chance to give the car a good test last weekend and check the lights won’t give us any drama, so now we’ve just got to get on with it,” says Campbell. “It’s a little depressing seeing my name so far down the points table, thankfully it’s all pretty tight at the moment and hopefully a good result should put us closer towards the top.”

The Lone Star Rally Canterbury gets underway with a ceremonial start outside the Lone Star in Manchester Street, Christchurch, from 5pm on Saturday. The following day, teams will tackle 162 kilometres of special stages, travelling as far north as Cheviot, before returning to the ceremonial finish at Lone Star from 7:14pm.

Recent Results
1New ZealandBen Hunt1:04:20.0
2New ZealandJosh Marston+1:08.3
3New ZealandJob Quantock+2:14.4
4New ZealandPhil Campbell+2:33.0
5New ZealandJack Hawkeswood+3:13.2
6New ZealandDylan Thomson+3:20.0
7New ZealandMatt Summerfield+3:20.4
8New ZealandBen Thomasen+3:29.1
9New ZealandRaana Horan+3:49.8
10New ZealandMarcus van Klink+4:11.2
11New ZealandKingsley Jones+4:48.2
12New ZealandMatt Wright+5:28.8
13New ZealandSean Haggarty+5:42.1
14New ZealandMatt Adams+5:47.7
15New ZealandAnthony Jones+6:07.4
16New ZealandDeane Buist+6:13.5
17New ZealandJohn Giltrap+6:15.4
18New ZealandPhil Collins+6:26.9
19New ZealandGaret Thomas+6:29.6
20New ZealandWayne Muckle+6:50.7
2019 Points
1EstoniaOtt TÄNAK150
2FranceSébastien OGIER146
3BelgiumThierry NEUVILLE143
4United KingdomElfyn EVANS78
5FinlandTeemu SUNINEN62
6United KingdomKris MEEKE60
7NorwayAndreas MIKKELSEN56
8SpainDani SORDO52
9FinlandEsapekka LAPPI40
9FinlandJari-Matti LATVALA40
11FranceSébastien LOEB39
12United KingdomGus GREENSMITH6
13FranceYoann BONATO4
14FranceStéphane SARRAZIN2
15FranceAdrien FOURMAUX1
1New ZealandHayden Paddon39
2New ZealandAndrew Hawkeswood30
3New ZealandJack Hawkeswood25
1New ZealandBen Hunt116
2New ZealandJosh Marston74
3New ZealandPhil Campbell48
4New ZealandDylan Thomson47
5New ZealandAndrew Hawkeswood46
5New ZealandMarcus Van Klink46
7New ZealandJack Hawkeswood43
8New ZealandMatt Summerfield42
9New ZealandKingsley Jones40
10New ZealandDylan Turner39
11New ZealandAnthony Jones37
12New ZealandJeff Judd27
12New ZealandBruce Herbert27
14New ZealandMike Sheehan24
15New ZealandDave Strong23
16New ZealandMike Young22
17New ZealandJob Quantock21
18New ZealandRobbie Stokes19
19New ZealandWayne Pittams18
20New ZealandRegan Ross15
1New ZealandStephen Barker32
2New ZealandDylan Turner27
3New ZealandPhil Campbell23
4New ZealandDylan Thomson20
5New ZealandAnthony Jones19
6New ZealandScott Rutherford16
7New ZealandRobbie Stokes14
8New ZealandJeff Judd13
9New ZealandPhil Macquarie12
10New ZealandBrian Green11
11New ZealandWayne Pittams10
12New ZealandBrendan Oakden9
13New ZealandWayne Rowberry8
14New ZealandBevan Wilson7
15New ZealandDaniel Hinton6
16New ZealandRodney Langdon5
17New ZealandDoug Adnitt4
18New ZealandTimothy Hood3
19New ZealandDaniel Alexander2
20New ZealandJack Williamson1
1New ZealandGaret Thomas69
2New ZealandJosh Marston52
3New ZealandJob Quantock51
4New ZealandSean Haggarty48
4New ZealandRegan Ross48
6New ZealandMatt Summerfield47
7New ZealandJeff Judd44
8New ZealandMarcus Van Klink40
9New ZealandJohn Giltrap38
9New ZealandDavid Gee38
11New ZealandMatt Wright36
12New ZealandBrad Harris32
13New ZealandGarry Cliff28
14New ZealandPhil Collins26
15New ZealandNick Marston23
16New ZealandDavid Taylor21
17New ZealandDeane Buist20
18New ZealandMike Sheehan18
18New ZealandCraig Cox18
20New ZealandHugh Owen17
1New ZealandEddie Bell110
1New ZealandHaydn McKenzie110
3New ZealandDavid Rogers106
4New ZealandBarry Kirk-Burnnand104
5New ZealandAndrew Oakley96
5New ZealandSteven Kirk-Burnnand96
5New ZealandMike Tubbs96
8New ZealandAnthony Butler94
9New ZealandJeremy Friar90
10New ZealandRory Callaway86
10New ZealandTim James86
10New ZealandGraeme Wong86
10New ZealandEddie Grooten86
14New ZealandGraeme Drummond84
15New ZealandTim McIver82
16New ZealandShane Walden81
17AustraliaRobert Darrington79
17New ZealandRichard Gillies79
19New ZealandIvan Knauf78
19New ZealandJohn Rae78