Stokes proving hard to beat heading to Rally South Canterbury

| Photographer Credit: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography

Heading to the Stadium Finance Rally South Canterbury this Saturday, Cantabrian Robbie Stokes is proving hard to beat as crews tackle the fourth round of the 2021 Mainland Rally Championship.  Having won the last two rounds, Stokes has a handy 36-point lead over Sean Haggarty with Marcus van Klink in third.  The one-day rally is the third round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, also incorporating the Mainland Rally Championship and has attracted a large field of 89 competitors, some competing in both series.

The rally features 158 km of Special Stages and approximately 190km of touring between Pleasant Point, Geraldine and the main service park in Fairlie. 

Two weeks ago, Robbie Stokes and co-driver Amy Stokes (Ford Fiesta AP4) convincingly won the 2021 Lone Star Canterbury Rally, despite a failing alternator at the end of the final stage.  This weekend’s event could prove to be very competitive with the main focus for Stokes’ and their competition being on the NZ Rally Championship round. 

“We aim to be as competitive as we have been throughout the year,” commented Robbie Stokes.  “It’s looking like there is going to be some rain so that will change the driving style a bit to compensate.” 

Also, in the mix will be current Mainland Rally champion Josh Marston.  Marston and co-driver Andrew Graves (Holden Barina AP4) have been very quick but struck fuel pressure problems at Rally Canterbury.  Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfiled are back in their very quick Mitsubishi Mirage AP4 while Michael Tall/Matt Richards (Mitsubishi Mirage) proved that given a chance, they will take it.  The pair finished runnerup to Stokes at Rally Canterbury.

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 into six different classes according to engine size, year of manufacturer and two, or four-wheel drive.

First overall in Class A (2WD 0-1300cc) is Chris Herdman (Toyota Starlet) just four-points ahead of Marty Roestenburg (Toyota Vitz).  In Class B (2WD 1301-1600cc), David Birkett (Toyota Levin) is six-points ahead of Tim Mackersy (Ford Fiesta R2). 

Marcus van Klink (Mazda RX8) has extended his lead after winning Class C (2WD 1601cc and over) at Rally Canterbury.  Second is Deane Buist (VW Golf) who retired out of Rally Canterbury in the final stage.

Stokes also leads Class D (4WD 1601cc and over) by four-points from Sean Haggarty (Subaru WRX).  Having won the opening round, Rally Westland, John Giltrap (Mitsubishi Evo 9) now sits in third overall.

Having missed Rally Canterbury, John Simpson (Subaru WRX) makes a start on Saturday and continues to lead Class E (Pre-1996 4WD).

In the very competitive Classic Class F, Jeff Judd (Ford Escort) leads by just one-point from David Owen (Ford Escort RS2000) with Graeme Coey (Mitsubishi Lancer EX) in third, six points further back.  James Macdonald continues to lead Class H (Subaru H6) and is fourth ovearll.

5pm on Friday evening sees a ceremonial start taking place at the Ara Polytechnic Car Park in Arthur Street, Timaru.  The rally starts and finishes at the Timaru International Raceway in Levels, with the first car away at 7:45am on Saturday before the first special stage gets underway at 8:30am.  The cars return to Levels for the final tenth Special Stage at 3:30pm.

2021 Mainland Rally Championship Overall Points (Top 10 after 3/5 rounds)
1/ Robbie Stokes 83
2/ Sean Haggarty 47
3/ Marcus van Klink 44
4= James Macdonald 41
4= Matt Summerfield 41
6= John Giltrap 38
6= Jeff Judd 38
8/ Ray Wilson 36
9/ David Birkett 30
10/ Paul Cross 29

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits talkmotorsport.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

http://talkmotorsport.co.nz

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