An unfortunate lapse in concentration spelt the end to what was a standout DriveSouth Rally of Otago for Greg Murphy and Mark Leonard in the Stadium Finance Vauxhall Chevette. Running as high as 36th overall, Murphy and co-driver Mark Leonard had been enjoying a relatively trouble free two-day rally until five stages from the end.
The accident happened 7.2 km into the 12.5 km Fiorio Stage 12 on the second day of the rally, 10 metres on from where another stationary competitor had retired from the leg.
“It was a balls up on my part,” said Murphy. “A car had stopped and I let Mark know that I had seen it and must have missed a (pace) note.
“We came through too fast for the next corner which caught me out. We then lost the back of the car down a bank then bounced back out across into a culvert but thankfully, upright. The car was too badly damaged to continue but the experts say that it is very repairable.
“The car was performing so well and we were having a ball. I’m really disappointed because we missed five amazing stages (13-17) on the Otago Rally.”
With nearly 100 competitors taking to the roads throughout the Otago region, the pairing started 45th and enjoyed some fast stages finishing as high as 30th on the 16 km Stage 7.
“We’ve had an awesome time with only a few issues. A few brake issues in SS 5 and 7 on day one plus an overheating issue late in the day.
“Dansey’s Pass (SS5) was really enjoyable. We were reasonably cautious heading down the hill as it was really rough there. It was a matter of driving to what was comfortable.”
Rising engine temperatures saw the team replace the engine head gasket at the end of Day One which proved successful with smooth running into Day Two.
Murphy’s co-driver Mark Leonard has been impressed with the progress being made by his driver.
” He’s going really good,” commented Leonard. “I’m really impressed with the way he is understanding the (pace) notes. Doing the (rally) recce has made a difference; he’s really stepped up and has a better understanding of what it about.”
A consolation for the team was winning category 5b in the Gull Rally Challenge which ran on day one and is part of the NZ Rally Championship.
The team will now prepare the car in time for the Canterbury Rally 5 June (Queens Birthday weekend).
Greg would like to thank the rally organisers, officials and volunteers for making the event so enjoyable and looks forward to returning.
Greg Murphy’s involvement in the Otago Rally has been made possible by the support of Stadium Finance, Penny Homes, Provident Insurance, HIAB Services, Consortium Construction and Dunlop Motorsport.