West Auckland rally driver Clint Cunningham has endured a tough run at the latest round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, being forced to retire from stage four of the Mahindra Goldrush Rally Coromandel with engine failure.
Cunningham came to the event confident of improving his speed on an event that he performed well on last season, but was filled with frustration when the car dropped on to three cylinders as he took off from the line. The car cleared itself midway through the stage, but by stage end Cunningham had lost some 30 seconds to sit in 18th position.
Stage two saw Cunningham struggle with brake problems in the RCK Contractors Mitsubishi Evo 8 Proto, but he and co-driver Glenn Goldring were able to move up three positions into 15th place.
After service, Cunningham was on a charge early in the stage but further misfiring problems would return for the second half of the stage, meaning he could only move up two further spots to 13th.
That 13th place would prove unlucky on the following stage, when the engine completely expired, stopping Cunningham in his tracks.
“Obviously it is a very bitter pill to swallow for us, we had a lot of confidence coming in and each stage had a drama,” said Cunningham. “But we’ll come back bigger and better, it’s tough and you certainly end up spending and day or two looking at the ground before you get back on the horse.”
The team are now pulling out all the stops to be ready for Tanoa Paihia Hotel Rally of the North on September 12.