Canterbury has a wealth of great gravel roads suitable for Rallying and Sprints. For round four of their 2015 Gravel Sprint Series on Sunday 23rd August, the Autosport Club chose Cust, north east of Rangiora. The Cust Sprint is ideal to test set ups for Rallying, as the fastest cars will reach 200km/s along the straights, there are some enjoyable sweeping corners in the middle, and several low speed tight 90 degree corners to test braking bravery and low speed drive at the exit.
The Autosport Club introduced a split time beam at the end of the first straight for the first time at Cust. It is around a 1km straight line drag from the start line to the first corner. While some cars would hit 200Km/h on that straight, others simply can’t go that fast – the times would be interesting.
Sunshine greeted the 43 drivers who took to the start line. Last year’s Cust winner Richard Baddock made Cust his first 2015 event. He has been parked up while building a new later model hatchback Impreza he plans to use in the NZRC in 2016 Baddock dragged the old car out for one of its final events. Michael Tall has run at the front all season and along with Matt Penrose and Garry Hawkes planned to make Baddock suffer for his rustiness. There were 19 4WD’s entered and also a big field of 2WD cars battling for their class honours. Results would be based on the fastest time from three runs on the course.
Cars were given a rough seeding meaning Tall would be first to take on Run One followed by Baddock, Penrose then Hawkes. This of course meant road sweeping for those guys. It didn’t stop Michael Tall though, he took 19.7 seconds to reach the split time beam and 2:22.6 to do the 5 km course. New competitor Job Quantock took advantage of better road conditions as car 29 to post 21.9 to the split and 2:27.5 to make second in run one. His father Dave Quantock took third fastest time as car 15, but there was less than a second in it. Baddock was next, followed by 2WD legend Rob McCallum who took fifth outright first up, even though his 2WD car was running 8th on the road.
Run Two evened the playing field with a swept road for all. Tall trimmed 5/10ths from his split and over five seconds from his total time to record 2:17.1 and stay at the top. Baddock jumped up to second but was six seconds back from Tall. Hawkes moved up to third another second back, with Job Quantock holding on to fourth, just 2/10ths behind Hawkes. Having gone off the road in his first run, Keith Anderson recovered to hold 5th after the first two runs.
Rob McCallum held a massive eight second lead in his Duratec powered MK2 Escort in the 2WD open class after run two. A close battle for second had developed between Glenn Buist (MK2 BDA), Ross Teesdale (Boosted AE86) and Wade Henshaw (RX7), all less than a second apart after run two. Wayne Muckle had also put down a good time in his Porsche 911. In the 1300 class Chris Herdman was putting up another dominant show, so much so he was at that point quicker than all the 1600 Class competitors.
For some the times would fall in the final run, for others their chances went west with mechanical issues, breakages or over excitement resulting in slower times. Tall has made a habit of winning the Autosport Club’s Gravel Sprints this season and Cust was no different, winning round four in a time of 2:13.5. Baddock was a little over two seconds behind, to take second and prove he has not lost his speed. Job Quantock took an impressive third place in the EVO 7 he shares with his Dad, who finished sixth. From memory Dave Quantock was fast in a BFMR Mazda back in the day, while Job is a newbie and clearly has some potential. Garry Hawkes took fourth, followed by Matt Penrose.
A wide exit or two stopped Rob McCallum going any faster in run three, but he would win the open 2WD class anyway. Glenn Buist knocked over 6 seconds from his time in the last run, to get within 2 seconds of McCallum and take a clear second in the 2WD’s. Ross Teesdale held third 2WD despite a front brake dragging causing three big moments including a spin, his run two time doing the job – just. Wade Henshaw also relied on his run two time to take fourth, his exhaust having dropped off which prevented his engine from running properly in run three. Merv Hatcher took fifth 2WD in his Starion Turbo, meanwhile Muckle had packed up and gone home when the 911 had gearbox issues after two runs. He had been on the pace until then.
Another new competitor, Jacob Ewing won the 1600 class in his recently purchased Toyota MR2. Ewing had done the sensible thing and built his speed as the day progressed. By day end he was down to 2:42 and over 4 seconds ahead of the fastest 1300 cars. Hayden Spatcher was second of the 1600 class cars in his Mitsi Mirage in one his first outings since having a decade away from the sport. James Hunter took his 4AGE powered Chevette to third, just ahead of Noel Simmon’s AE86.
Chris Herdman won the 1300 class in his Starlet, over 3 seconds ahead of veteran campaigner Grant Goile in his KE30 Corolla. Goile was seen on video to go wide in the last run, undoubtedly costing him any chance of beating Herdman on the day. Tireless Autosport Club President Graham Wilson took third of the 1300’s followed by Jamie Powell, both in Starlet’s.
With their driveways closed by the event, many of the local farming community took vantage points to watch the action, adding to the sizable crowd that watched the event. The introduction of the spit times proved a few points and allowed the drivers to test different ways of trying to get the best launch from the line. Of the points made, for example, a certain fast 2WD car was seeing 200km/h along the first straight, yet was beaten by nearly two seconds to the first corner by Glenn Buist’s BDA which never saw more than 190km/h on that straight (but Glenn did hit 200km/h on the other straight). Those darn Mk2 Escort’s put their power down so well – but we knew that. The fifth and final round of the Autosport Club’s Gravel Sprint series will be a Forest Sprint on 4th October.
Media: Ross Teesdale