Robbie Stokes/Amy Stokes will defend their lead in the 2021 Mainland Rally Championship in a Ford Escort Mk2, in this Sunday’s Lone Star Canterbury Rally, against a number of much faster rivals in more modern machinery. It’s the third round of the series which will see 59 competitors competing in seven special stages totalling 134 kms on forestry and public gravel roads in North Canterbury. Organisers are confident that the recent horrific wet weather that hit the Canterbury region will have little impact on the route.
Stokes drove his father’s, Brian Stokes, very quick Ford Escort to fourth overall at the opening round of the series, the Westland Rally, before switching to his Ford Fiesta AP4, and winning the second round at Rally Otago, which was part of the opening round of the 2021 NZ Rally Championship.
First away at 8:30am on Sunday 6 June, from Joe’s Garage in Rangiora, will be current Mainland Rally champion Josh Marston/Andrew Graves (Holden Barina AP4) followed by the very quick Matt Summerfield/ Nicole Summerfield competing in their older Subaru WRX instead of their new Mitsubishi Mirage AP4, which they are currently using for the national championship.
Behind them will be a number of competitors seeking to win their home event, including Job Quantok/Grant Marra (Skoda AP4), Michael Tall/Matt Richards (Mitsubishi Mirage), Sean Haggarty/Bella Haggarty (Subaru WRX), who sits third overall and John Giltrap/Sarah Faulkner (Mitsubishi EVO 9) who won the Westland Rally and sits second overall on the points table.
New to rallying but not to going sideways on dirt, is the entry of multi speedway champion Michael Pickens. The current NZ Sprintcar and nine-time midget car champion will have Stephen Lloyd in the co-driver’s seat of their Toyota DX Corolla and is not phased by what is ahead.
The first of seven special stages will take place in the Ashley Forest before heading to five others both north and south of the town of Cheviot.
Autotech Services, RDL Performance and Brita Safety have put up $500 for each Class winner at the end of the Mainland Rally Championship season. Vehicles are divided up into six different classes according to engine size, year of manufacturer and two or four-wheel drive.
Leading Class A (2WD 0-1300cc) is Marty Roestenburg who switches from his Toyota Starlet to a Vitz. Class B (2WD 1301-1600cc) is led by David Birkett (Toyota Levin). Robbie Stokes (Ford Escort) is level-pegging with Marcus van Klink (Mazda RX8) in Class C (2WD 1601cc and over).
John Giltrap (Mitsubishi EVO 9) continues to lead Class D (4WD 1601cc and over) while Class E (Pre-1996 4WD) has John Simpson (Subaru WRX) at the front. David Owen (Ford Escort RS2000) leads the Classic Class F and James MacDonald Class H (Subaru H6).
The first car starts from Joe’s Garage, Alfred St, Rangiora at approximately 8:30am on Sunday 6th June, finishing at approximately 6pm at the Lone Star, Manchester St, Christchurch.
Next up for the Mainland Rally Championship teams is Rally South Canterbury (19 June), followed by Rally Hanmer (25 September) and either Catlins or Lawrence Rally (T.B.A.) (15 November).
2021 Mainland Rally Championship Overall Points (Top 9)
1/ Robbie Stokes 53
2/ John Giltrap 36
3/ Sean Haggarty 29
4/ Matt Summerfield 26
5= James Macdonald 25
5= Josh Marston 25
7/ Reagan Ross 22
8/ Sheldon Bell 20
9/ David Birkett 19