Round One of the New Zealand Rally Championship, Rally Otago, held last weekend, was a friendly reminder for Rotorua’s Sloan Cox of the high calibre of drivers in the Championship. Rally Otago is an event where you need to be 100% comfortable in the car to be at the front of the field. With Otago being the first event Cox and Read have competed in with their own pace notes, there was a focus in the weekend to learn from each other and develop a stronger bond so that car speed would naturally increase.
With a lot of pre season work carried out on the Taslo Engineering Mitsubishi Evo X and positive testing sessions under their belts, the Cox Motorsport Team were confident heading into the rally. However a new electrical problem presented on the Friday before the event which caused the car to start self revving, creating trouble for the team. The service crew worked hard on Friday and thought they had overcome the problem, but it resurfaced on Saturday’s stages and stopped the car in stage four, which lost the pairing over two minutes as they did their best to get the car going again. The issues with the car made for a challenging Saturday and upset the rhythm between Cox and the Evo X.
Sunday started off with the same electrical problems and despite the first two stages feeling good, the Evo X felt under powered. A boost check on the way to the day’s first service revealed that the car was only running on half boost and the service team were able to rectify this problem.
The last stage of the event and the power stage saw the duo decide to push to gain some valuable championship points. Everything was going perfectly until 6km from the end when the boost pipe completely came off losing all boost. The pairing then focused on doing all they could to get the car to the end of the stage and rally finish.
“I knew going back to Otago for the first time in three years was going to be a challenging event due to the style of roads, but the whole weekend was harder than we expected because of the sudden problems with the Evo X. Despite this I had an awesome time being back on the fast roads and bought the car home with no damage which will make preparation for Whangarei easier as we can focus all our efforts onto the current electrical problems,” states Cox.
“It was a challenging yet still a successful weekend in other ways then the overall result for Sloan and I. Despite the electrical glitch which cost us time we focused on really getting in sync with one another and identifying areas we can improve on with our written notes and this showed with our improved pace on Sunday. I’m looking forward to what the rest of the season will bring,” Read added.
The Cox Motorsport Team now turn their attention to The International Rally of Whangarei, Round Two of the New Zealand Rally Championship held on 30th April to 1st May 2016.