Josh Marston will head into this weekend’s Rally of Canterbury intent on continuing on his strong early season form.
Marston currently sits in second place in the New Zealand Rally Championship after solid points scoring finishes at Otago and Whangarei.
The Canterbury driver heads the 60-car field in the seven-stage rally in his Holden Barina AP4.
He will use the rally as a shakedown for round three of the national series, the South Canterbury Rally, on June 19.
“We will use this weekend to work on the set-up, especially as Canterbury has very similar flowing fast public roads as Timaru,” Marston told Talk Motorsport.
“The car is continually evolving with many small changes and we are always working on it.
“This year has seen a great step up in pace, but there’s more left in it (especially if the driver pulls the finger out!).”
Pressed on exactly what has seen the increase in pace, Marston added:
“It is a bit of everything to be honest. Suspension, diffs, engine. We’ve made improvements across the board.”
Another NZRC challenger, Matt Summerfield, will start from position two in Canterbury, but he won’t be aboard his usual Mitsubishi Mirage AP4.
“The car is still getting repaired from the mechanical at Whangarei, so we are back in the Impreza WRX,” Summerfield said.
“It will be interesting to see the speed between us and Josh.”
Marston and Summerfield won’t have it all their own way, however, with a brace of four-wheel drive turbo cars on their tails.
Job Quantock will be back in his Skoda Fabia AP4, Michael Tall will be Mitsubishi Mirage mounted, and the experienced John Giltrap will be one to watch in his Lancer Evo 9.
The potential two-wheel drive battle has mouths watering too.
Marcus van Klink leads the hopefuls in his screaming Mazda RX8, but Robbie Stokes has parked his regular Fiesta AP4 for the family’s Ford Escort Mk2 and is sure to keep it on the lock stops.
Keeping them honest will be the ever-reliable Deane Buist in Otago Classic Rally winning Volkswagen Golf GTi.
Torrential rain in the Canterbury region has caused major flooding, but there’s plenty of optimism about with fine weather forecast for Sunday when the rally will run.
“The weather hasn’t been the best, but it’s sunny now and there is plenty of time, so I’m hopeful that there are no problems,” Marston added.
As usual, results for the rally can be found at www.chrissport.co.nz
Otago locks in April date
The 2022 New Zealand Rally Championship will keep up its recent tradition, with the Otago Rally to open the season next year.
The Otago Sports Car Club have locked in April 8-10 as the rally dates, with a two-day route of nearly 300km of stages.
Signature stages Kuri Bush and Waipori Gorge will feature prominently, while other favourites Whare Flat, McIntosh Road and Black Rock will re-join the itinerary.
The rally will also return to the Middlemarch area for its fast, public road stages.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming back our overseas competitors – in particular the many Aussies who couldn’t make the trip this year,” rally manager, Norm Oakley, said.
The 2021 event attracted over 100 entries after the cancellation of the 2020 rally.