Famous names and film sets on the competition route to Rotorua
Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis hold lead for second day
Peter and Gris Gordon’s Talbot morphs into MGB GT
The reward for competitors early haul south out of Auckland was a flying visit to compete around the kart track in the impressive Hampton Downs Motorsport Centre. With a full race circuit alongside new preparation facilities for the likes of Toyota Gazoo Racing NZ who are headquartered there, apartments overlooking the track are named after New Zealand’s most famous F1 men, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.
With a run along the infamous NZ World Rally Championship Whaanga Coast road and a visit to the film location of ‘The Hobbit’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, (Hobbiton), the scene was set for a great day of fame and fortune as crews continued their battle for honours. The first tarmac regularity of the rally appropriately called ‘The Shire’ started with quite a climb and tightened at the end, but it was a contrast to the dust of the gravel tracks, especially as sweet rain fell halfway through which pleased the dry locals.
Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis held the lead they won a day ago in their Porsche 911 Targa, making it more than ‘one day in paradise’ as Filip described their first time at the top of the time sheets yesterday. With Sherif Hwaidak and Yevhen Harashchenko’s 911 Carrera holding second place, Lorna Harrison was right to say, “we couldn’t cope with the Porsches around the circuit today,” as she and her husband Mike kept third place in their Volvo PV544. “But we had a good day, we think we got a zero on one of the regularities!”
Peter and Gris Gordon suffered the misfortune of a broken differential casing on their 1935 Talbot yesterday, parts of which blew a hole on the pretty body of the vintage car as bits punched their way out. All was looking grim for the couple to continue until a possible MG Midget replacement opportunity morphed into an MGB GT to get them back into the event!
Peter, pointing to the Gordon’s new steed said; “This is the lifeboat, the main ship is still holed, although it is above the waterline, it can’t move. This is Ruby, an MGB GT, I don’t know if we will take the car home but the man who sold it to us couldn’t get into it anymore. He said ‘you never know, they say you can fall in love with a second car!’ It has no brakes at the moment, but it’s great that out of the car disaster we have this lifeline.”
Olivia Holroyd, Bentley 4 ½ Litre, described driving along part of the epic Whaanga Coast road; “We were going at speed down a hill and there was a tight hairpin at the bottom where the washboard surface was so deep the car it felt like it had no suspension left, almost floating. My heart was in my mouth. Dad was really working hard at the wheel.”
On the same section of road Julia Kirkham and Ed Charlesworth were struggling a bit with the overdrive not working and some electrical problems over this rough section. Ed; “Julia was driving over the gravel, the overdrive failure was electrical but it was more of an inconvenience.” Julia; “It was full on! Ed made me drive it like a regularity, in fact we thought it was for a while as it was so challenging, but it was no surprise to find out it was a famous WRC stage! We got to the top of one cliff and I got a bit sideways!” Julia was power sliding again like yesterday, not bad for newbie.
Tim Eades and Jim McLaren Ford Escort Mexico; Tim; “Great roads, a great country. New Zealand has been on my bucket list for a long time, in fact at one point I was thinking of emigrating here! Even the asphalt roads go forever, curve after curve, they are incredible. The loose road around the coast went on for mile after mile, so many curves it was impressive. The only thing that would have made it better was if you knew the road was closed and you could bust loose knowing nothing was coming the other way. We lost fifth gear yesterday but it’s no big deal, the car is going great.”
Nigel and Sally Woof, Triumph TR4; Nigel; “We had a great day today it was lovely out there. This is the first day we haven’t had any issues with the car.” Nigel was saying this as he stretched out on a bench at Hobbiton, contemplating whether he and his wife Sally would take the bus tour around the Lord of the Rings set. “ I hurt my back a week before coming over to New Zealand, but it’s amazing what an adventure in a rally car can do – adrenalin overturns pain!”