Tauranga’s Phil Campbell has endured a tough start to the 2021 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, retiring from the opening round, the Winmax Otago Rally.
After the national championship was cancelled in 2020, Campbell was eager to continue the form shown when he finished runner up at the televised Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge amongst a star-studded field. With a new livery incorporating Tauranga ITM as well as The Roofing Store, the team were confident of a strong showing.
Campbell and co-driver Jared Hudson hovered around the top ten early until a broken front axle in the 49 kilometre stage three. Thankfully, a service park was only a stone throw away from the stage end. The crew were able to replace the axle, but a piece that stuck in the gearbox meant that time penalties for lateness dropped the pair outside the top 25.
As the day wore on, the pace improved and Campbell would move The Roofing Store Ford Fiesta AP4 into 18th place by the end of the day, looking for a strong showing to secure day points on day two.
Campbell had a trouble free run through the days opening stage through the ever treacherous Berwick Forest, moving up four places. The following stage would see disaster, with a small mistake heavily punished, breaking the suspension and ending the rally on the spot.
“It was a pretty tough event right from the start for us unfortunately. We came into the season with some confidence after Jack’s Ridge, but it didn’t translate as we would’ve liked,” said Campbell. “On the positive side, we’ve had a heap of positive feedback on the look of the car, now we just need to go as good as it looks!”
The Campbell Rally Sport team now focus on the International Rally of Whangarei presented by Mark Cromie Motor Group on May 14-16.