Galbraith takes consecutive Westland Rally win

| Photographer Credit: Andy Vause

Timaru’s Darren Galbraith/James Bracefield (Mitsubishi Evo 6) have won the 2016 Stadium Finance/REPCO Westland Rally for the second year running from Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfield (Subaru WRX) with Deane Buist/Karl Celeste (Ford Escort) third. Held in wet and often slippery conditions, the rally threw up a number of challenges for the 57 entries, with only 39 making the finish line.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the win,” said Galbraith. “It wasn’t without its moments and the pace is certainly getting quicker each year.”

Second place Matt Summerfield won the opening stage but then lost the lead to Galbraith who held it to the end, winning four special stages and never finishing lower than second in the other five.

“The rally went really well,” commented Summerfield. “The whole thing went faultlessly and we achieved what we wanted to do. We have rebuilt the car since last season and needed to put it through its paces before we head to Rally Otago.

“Darren was really pushing real hard, as we could tell by following his marks through the stages”

Undoubtedly it was this pace that brought about the win but very nearly was the undoing of the rally for Galbraith and Bracefield.

“The rally was pretty exciting for us as we had quite a few ‘moments’,” commented Galbraith. “On the very first stage we nearly hit some deer that ran out in front of the car while we were in fifth gear.

“But just before that we clipped the edge of a bridge. The road was very wet and we braked a bit late.

“We had a few other moments later during the day as Matt (Summerfield) was pushing us all the way.

“Going into the last stage we had a 22sec lead. However, we spun and the car stalled and initially we couldn’t get it started. We lost about 18-20 seconds and we thought that it may have been enough for Matt to take the lead. We kept pushing and fortunately went quicker than Matt on that stage and it was enough to secure the win.”

Unbeknown to Galbraith, Summerfield had elected to cruise through this stage and secure second position.

“The last stage, (Ahaura SS9) we struggled for rhythm so elected to cruise and secure the result,” said Summerfield.

Deane Buist won the final stage, his third in the rally to secure third overall and first home in Class C.

Expect Galbraith to be back in 2017.

“We are definitely keen to come back next year to do three in a row,” commented Galbraith.

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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