It isn’t the number of late entries to the Trusthouse Racetech Daybreaker Rally Wairarapa that has people talking, but who those entries are and what they are driving over the start line on 3 October.
Certainly the 72 car field will make this the biggest motorsport rally of the year, with 26 of those entered in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. However, this last round of the championship for the 2015 season is creating a buzz for a number of reasons.
Yet another former National Champion has joined the fray in the form of Chris West. But it will be the debut of the Mitsubishi Mirage he is driving that will create the interest. Having been built to the new AP4 car specifications over the course of this year by Team Ralliart New Zealand, it is the latest challenger to emerge from the new rules.
The Mirage follows the precedent set by the Mazda 2 of Andrew Hawkswood. As the first of the new generation cars to be built in NZ, specifically to the AP4 rules, the mighty Mazda has been a useful development test bed. However this could be one of its last outings for a long time, as Hawkswood has made no secret of the second version Mazda 2 he has under construction, using the new body shape.
Returning to top flight rally competition is Todd Bawden. Known for his spectator pleasing driving back in the early 2000’s, Bawden has been getting back into the rhythm of things this year, with three events sp far in his Lancer Evo 6. He will be hoping to improve on his 7th overall at Rally of Coromandel, which shows he can still mix it with the championship contenders, despite using the older Evo 6 car.
Speaking of older cars, Richard Mason has confirmed he will be defending his Rally Wairarapa crown using the Subaru WRX he last used to win the 2005 national championship. Technology has certainly moved on from then, but you can bet Mason will be pushing hard to retain the trophy.
Adding into this mix are the likes of Emma Gilmour in her Suzuki Swift Maxi, Stewart Taylor in his Evo 10, Lance Williams in his R4 version of the WRX, as well as the usual range of Mitsubishis, Subarus, Mazda RX7s, Ford Escorts, and a string of classics. Which means you have an exciting field of cars and drivers, with something for all of the spectators and fans.
The event starts with a driver signing session, car display, and colouring competition on 2nd October, this coming Friday night from 5pm. Held at the Eastwood Motor Group showroom, 144 Dixon St, Masterton, it is an ideal opportunity to bring the family down to see some of the cars up close and meet the drivers.
Then the rubber hits the gravel from 7.40am on Saturday morning as the cars depart Pohangina in the Manawatu for 4 special stages, before jumping the ranges to complete 4 more stages in the northern Wairarapa. The ceremonial finish will be at the Copthorne Resort Solway Park in Masterton at 4.30pm.