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May 14, 2024

Hawkes Bay Rally – Jul 2008

With the threat of one of winter’s biggest storms we headed for Hawkes Bay for the fourth round of NZRC. This year it was to be a 2 day event with the first Saturday- centered in Wairoa and the Sunday based in Napier.

With a scheduled 8.00am start for the first car in Wairoa 100 kms away it was an early morning wakeup, especially for Mark, Harley and Deane who had to take the truck to Wairoa, with the Micra on the trailer behind. The road from Napier to Wairoa must be the longest winding road in the country! Over 100 kms. Early morning fog and the imminent rain made for a dreary start until the Orange terror was unloaded and we set about giving it Mark special hand cut tyres to suit the wet conditions at final service before its challenges of the day.

There were three stages to do, and a remote refuel on the Waikaremoana road, before service back in Wairoa at midday. Those three stages were then to be repeated in the afternoon.

Right from the start there was plenty of drama. There were 5 retirements after just one stage. When Reg and CG came in for the first service they were second in class Dave Strong had succumbed to mechanical problems after stage 2, Ben Jagger was out with front suspension problems after stage one and Reg had his foot down chasing down the class leader Dermot Malley and 30 secs ahead of Aron Cook in 3rd.

After another as usual demanding super efficient service, including fitting some of Reg’s specially grooved tyres to combat the wet and slippery conditions, the Micra headed out for the afternoon’s stages with some confidence.

The 1st stage after lunch was very good with our special tyres working well with a 1st equal time and closing the time gap on the class leader.

The next stage Waihi 34 kms which suits the Micra Turned into a bit of a nightmare. 8kms in coming down an 80 km straight. Reg turned into a right hand corner. but Something went wrong in the left front suspension. Our Micra went left and 60 meters later stopped on the edge of a 200 foot precipice. Reg and CG looked at each other and thought what do they do now and what the hell had happened. Before they could get out the bank gave way and the micra barrel rolled  40 meters down the cliff face. Luckily the car stopped precariously on step ledge. It could easily have gone another 40 feet into a large river full of huge boulders.

The crew waited at Putorino for the remote refuel prior to the touring stage back to Napier for the night. No Micra and  cell phone coverage was non existent and so it was an hour and a half after the accident before the service crew set off back to the Waikaremoana road to meet them. By this time Mark was already back in Napier with the truck and trailer so he and Deane had to repeat the 2 hour trip back to meet the car in wairoa for the 2nd time in 1 day.

Very Luckily there were no injuries to Reg or Mark.

As the car had obviously had a fairly big hit to the suspension it was decided to put it on the trailer and call it a day                                                                           

The 2nd day of the rally was cancelled because of many slips on the roads

It was great to see the way our rally team of the weekend Mark Roger Harley Dean adapted and coped fantastically well with all the many different challenges thrown at them.

Next round is Rally New Zealand in about four weeks so with some panel work and other mechanical repairs it will be a busy time for the crew.

Thanks to everybody.


Peter Merrie