Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield has become just the third driver to win back to back titles at the iconic Ashley Forest Rallysprint after a close fought victory at the iconic event over the weekend.
Last year, the 23 year-old took victory in a hugely powerful V8 powered Mitsubishi Cordia, but this year lined up in the Castrol Edge Subaru he has campaigned in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship this season, complete with the 34mm intake restrictor required under rally rules, but not for the short 1.7km sprint.
Saturday saw three qualifying runs, with Summerfield recording the second fastest time on each attempt, and while overnight rain changed the game significantly, Summerfield again record the second fastest time.
The sudden-death elimination runs for which the event is famous began with the top 32, with Summerfield recording the third fastest time. It was the top 16 run however when the front of the field took a hit, with two of the top four qualifiers failing to finish. That left Summerfield in effectively a two-horse race through the remaining eliminations.
Sitting second through the remaining eliminations, Summerfield threw everything at the final run and in the end came away with the win by less than a quarter of a second.
“I’m absolutely stoked at the moment, to go back to back is pretty awesome, particularly to join the small list of names that have done it,” said Summerfield. “I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous in my life as I was during that final run, it is a seriously intense and exciting event!”
The Matt Summerfield Rallisport Team now turn their attention to the final round of the NZRC, Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa, on October 3.