Wed, 23 Oct 2019 - Force Motorsport to take on international rivals at APRC Finale  

New Zealand-based rally team Force Motorsport will look to recreate history when they take on an international field at the final of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, the Longyou Rally in China, over Labour weekend (New Zealand time).

Force Motorsport have sent a two-car line up for father and son drivers, Andrew and Jack Hawkeswood to the winner takes all event, both driving identical Mazda 2 AP4 specification cars. They will be looking to recreate history, the last time Mazda won the prestigious series was in 1989 with Kiwi driver Rod Millen at the wheel of a 323.

Force Motorsport have been heavily involved with the development of AP4 cars that have won multiple championships in both New Zealand and Australia, with the team having supplied cars not only to both sides of the Tasman but also Indonesia and the USA.

A revamp of the APRC has seen seven qualifying rounds with a winner takes all final event that will alternate between the Asia and Pacific regions, starting with China in 2019. Seven cars will contest the final, including the two Force cars, a local Chinese entry in a Subaru and two two-wheel drive and two four-wheel drive cars from Japanese tuning house Cusco, including fellow Kiwi driver Mike Young, expected to be the strongest competition for the Force pair.

Both Andrew and Jack have secured good results in the qualifying rounds, 18-year old Jack taking a third and a fifth with father Andrew, the 2017 New Zealand Rally Champion, taking a second and a third.

While this is Andrew’s second APRC campaign, neither he nor Jack have competed in China previously and are expecting tricky conditions to greet them.

“Obviously it’s going to be a tricky rally, but we’re going and we’ve got a really good shot of one of us taking out the title,” says Andrew Hawkeswood. “For me, to be able to compete abroad in a two-car team with my son is something pretty special, plus we’ve done a lot of work to get the AP4 concept up and running so if one of us could take the title it would really be fantastic.”

“It won’t be easy though, we’ve come up against the Cusco guys before and they run a good operation. There will be plenty of challenges, but I’m confident we’re up for them.”

The Chinese Longyou Rally is the final round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Held from 25-27 October, the event sees 220km of special stages, at the end of which the APRC champion will be crowned.

Wed, 23 Oct 2019 - van Klink secures title in nail-biting season finale 

Christchurch’s Marcus van Klink has secured the Motorsport New Zealand Two-wheel drive section of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship after a thrilling battle at the final round, the Handy Rentals Hamilton Rally of Waitomo.

Throughout the season, van Klink had set the pace and looked set to secure the title with a round to spare before a burst appendix saw him forced to sit out the penultimate round on the Coromandel Peninsula and consequently seeing his lead reduced to zero, forcing a winner takes all shootout.

Wet conditions greeted the teams and van Klink posted what he thought was a strong opening time in the Triple Rotor Mazda RX-8, only to find championship rival Anthony Jones set a time 15 seconds faster. In fact it would be the fourth stage before van Klink and Dave Neill could take a stage win away from their rivals, taking the seventh fastest outright stage time and quickest two-wheel drive through the 42 kilometre monster, reducing the deficit from 26.2 seconds to 7.2 seconds.

The penultimate stage saw the gap open to nine seconds but with the final stage of the rally the longest at 43km, there was plenty to play for. After charging through the final stage van Klink set the fastest two-wheel drive time and seventh quickest overall, only to find his rival suffered a mechanical issue, meaning he not only won the rally but the overall two-wheel drive title as well.

“That was certainly doing it the hard way! It was always going to be hard to beat Jonesy at Waitomo, it doesn’t necessarily suit our car, so while we were gutted for him, it was a relief to get to the finish in the lead,” said van Klink. “It was an exciting way to finish what’s been a pretty exciting season for us and a great result for the team and sponsors.

Klink Rallysport would like to thank the sponsors that have made their 2019 NZRC campaign possible; Universal Plumbing, Buteline, Entire Electrical Solutions, Palmside, Al Marsh Rotorsport and Castrol.

Wed, 23 Oct 2019 - Thomson secures third in championship  

Christchurch’s Dylan Thomson has secured third place in the 2019 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship despite a gut-wrenching mechanical failure at the Handy Rentals Hamilton Waitomo Rally.

Moving into a four-wheel drive car for the 2019 season after teaming up with Specialised Auto Services, Thomson’s season prior to the event was a model of consistency with five solid finishes from five rounds heading to the season finale.

Unfortunately for Thomson and co-driver Amy Hudson, that run would come to an end with their Waitomo Rally almost over before it began. A failure within the centre differential of the car saw a hole in the side of the gearbox that allowed all of the oil to escape. Unfortunately by stage end, terminal damage had been done and at the first service only a kilometre from the end of stage one, their rally was over.

It left a nervous wait for the pair, who sat third in their respective driver and co-driver championship standings. In the end, Thomson would secure third in the drivers championship by five points, while Hudson would unfortunately slip to fourth in the co-driver standings.

“It’s a gut-wrenching way to finish the season, in hindsight there were a few warning signs, but nothing too obvious. We’ll have to get it home, pull it apart and see how bad the gearbox is, then probably try and save a few extra pennies to fix it up,” said Thomson.

But when we look at what we have achieved over the season we are both pretty stoked. We’d always said this season was all about learning the four-wheel drive car so to think we are third and fourth in the championship is phenomenal,” he adds.

Dylan Thomson Rallysport’s campaign is supported by Total Lubricants, Riordan and West Transport Pukekohe, Drew + Accounting, Harrier Signs, Specialised Auto Services, Steelrite Framing, LJ Hooker, Fowler Homes South Auckland and New Zealand, AA Autocentre Hornby, Stadium Finance, Jivan Produce, Dunlop, Dixcel and Braketech.

Wed, 23 Oct 2019 - Campbell goes close in season finale  

Tauranga’s Phil Campbell has gone close to adding another national championship round win at the final event of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the Handy Rentals Hamilton Waitomo Rally, held over the weekend.

Campbell and co-driver Mal Peden have shown pace throughout the 2019 NZRC season, starting with a podium finish but frustrating technical glitches have cost further strong results.

With a desire to secure a strong result to finish the season, Campbell pressed on in the opening stage and immediately set the second fastest stage time, then repeating the result in stage two and again in stage three to sit a solid second at the half way point.

A third fastest time in stage four saw Campbell look solid in second until the following stage. The Roofing Store Ford Fiesta AP4 was again second fastest, but a turbo failure for the rally leader meant Campbell headed to the final stage with a lead of 17.2 seconds and 43 kilometres to defend a fast closing Raana Horan.

Knowing that a rally win was on the line, Campbell left nothing on the table in the final stage, but unfortunately just 2.2km into the stage, cut a corner and damaged the left front suspension, ending his rally gut-wrenchingly close to victory.

“Obviously we’re gutted to come so close and have such a small mistake be so costly. Raana (Horan, eventual rally winner) was coming up fast in the afternoon and I certainly didn’t want to get to the end and wished I’d pushed harder. We had to give it a go, unfortunately it didn’t come off,” said Campbell.

“The pace across the day though was really encouraging, we had a great run at Rally of the North prior to Waitomo and then we were on the pace right from the start here, so there’s plenty of positives to take away. Now we’ll be able to rebuild over the off season with confidence that we’ll be on the pace in 2020.”

Tue, 22 Oct 2019 - Flying Finn Mikko Hirvonen to contest Otago Rally

Finnish World Rally Championship legend, Mikko Hirvonen, will contest next year’s International Classic Otago Rally in a huge coup for the New Zealand event.

The winner of 15 World Rally Championship (WRC) events, Hirvonen retired from the top level of rallying at the end of the 2014 season, but will drive a Ford Escort RS1800 for the Rossendale Wines team in the Dunedin based event

Hirvonen, 39, is looking forward tackling the famous South Island rally for the first time.

“I have been aware of the Otago Classic Rally for a number of years, and it has always been an event that I wanted to do one day,” Hirvonen said.

“I have competed in Rally New Zealand many times, but have never competed on the South Island roads.

“The attraction of competing on these roads in a legendary BDA Escort is irresistible. For sure, I will be aiming to win, but I am looking forward to also visiting this beautiful area and mixing with the local competitors,” he added.

Hirvonen drove for the Ford, Citroen, Subaru and Skoda teams during his 13 years in the WRC, and now owns his own Ford Escort RS1800 that he competes in regularly.

Otago Rally spokesman, Roger Oakely, said that the event was thrilled to be welcoming another world-class rally driver to the event.

“We are excited to receive Mikko's entry, as he has a fabulous record in the World Championship and our fans our in for a treat of world class driving on world class roads,” Oakely said.

“New Zealand competitors will have a real benchmark to compare themselves to.

“Mikko is known for being very approachable and likeable, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Otago Rally.”

The Otago Rally has a history of attracting WRC stars to the event, including Bjorn Waldegard, Hannu Mikkola, Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen, Miki Biasion, Didier Auriol, Michele Mouton and father and son, Jimmy and Alister McRae.

The 2019 Otago Classic Rally was won by Norwegian WRC star, Mads Ostberg, driving the same Escort that Hirvonen will drive next year. Ostberg contested the rally twice, as has Estonian Markko Martin in recent years. The 2020 Otago Rally will be held from April 3 to 5 next year. The Rally is grateful for the support of Dunedin City Council Premier Event funding. For more information on the Otago Rally, visit the event website at www.otagorally.com

Wed, 16 Oct 2019 - Thomson aims to secure third at Waitomo

Christchurch’s Dylan Thomson heads to the final round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the Handy Rentals Waitomo Rally, looking for a result that will secure him third in the championship.

In what has been his first season in a four-wheel drive car, Thomson aimed to learn across the season, looking to complete every rally. His consistency and increasing speed saw him move into third in the championship after the fourth round, Rally Canterbury, then maintain the position through round five.

The final round has seen several new supporters join the team, notably the good sports at Stadium Cars and the team at Ingham Hyundai Hamilton, who along with the multiple partners that have sponsored the Specialised Auto Services Subaru Impreza STi have made the final round, and the opportunity to secure a podium championship result, a possibility.

Thomson holds a 21-point margin over fourth place and with 30 points the maximum available, knows that realistically a clean run should see him bag the position. However for co-driver Amy Hudson, there is only a six point gap back to fourth place in the co-drivers standings, leaving the pair with a decision to make as to how they will attack the event.

“We’ve probably never had so many people come on board for one event to get us to the final round, which is humbling and massively appreciated, so we have to make sure we repay them and secure this third in the championship,” says Thomson. “Obviously we’ve got a couple of different situations to balance, I’ve more or less got to finish to take third but Amy equally deserves third in the championship, which means we’ll need to push on a bit. We’ll have to play it by ear a bit on the day and just do what we’ve done all season.”

The 2019 Handy Rentals Waitomo Rally starts from Piopio at 7:25am, with six mammoth special stages totalling 198.04km of special stages in the Waikato region, before the rally finishes at Southwell School in Hamilton from 5pm.

Dylan Thomson Rallysport’s campaign is supported by Total Lubricants, Riordan and West Transport Pukekohe, Drew + Accounting, Harrier Signs, Specialised Auto Services, Steelrite Framing, LJ Hooker, Fowler Homes South Auckland and New Zealand, Stadium Cars, AA Autocentre Hornby, Jivan Produce, Dunlop, Dixcel and Braketech.

Tue, 15 Oct 2019 - Title on the line at Waitomo for van Klink

Christchurch’s Marcus van Klink heads to the final round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the Handy Rentals Rally Waitomo, in a winner takes all shootout for top two-wheel drive honours.

The season could not have had a better start for van Klink and co-driver Dave Neill, the pair taking victory in each of the first four rounds and were looking to wrap up the title with a round to spare at round five, Rally Coromandel, however van Klink was side-lined in the week leading up to the event with a burst appendix and was forced to miss the event.

That means the pair head to the final round on equal points with rival Anthony Jones for the Motorsport NZ 2WD titles. Form sits with van Klink, who has been the two-wheel drive pace setter all season in the Universal Plumbing Triple Rotor Mazda RX-8, while the Waitomo event was the scene of the cars first class win when it debuted in the championship in 2017.

“I think it’s fair to say that going to Coromandel the plan wasn’t to come to Waitomo in a dead heat, but it’s certainly going to make for an exciting finish to the season,” says van Klink.

“Last time Waitomo ran as part of the championship, it was a really good, enjoyable event and as an added bonus, we won last time as part of a pretty tough season. We’re going to have to be on it right from the start.”

The 2019 Handy Rentals Waitomo Rally starts from Piopio at 7:25am, with six mammoth special stages totalling 198.04km of special stages in the Waikato region, before the rally finishes at Southwell School in Hamilton from 5pm.

Tue, 15 Oct 2019 - Sheehan on brink of first national title at Waitomo

Queenstown’s Mike Sheehan heads to the final round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship with one hand on the trophy, requiring only one point from the Handy Rentals Waitomo Rally this weekend.

In his first full season at a national level, Sheehan has been a model of consistency, securing top two placings in four of the five rounds to date that have secured him a 30-point lead prior to the season finale.

A season victory would continue a strong run for Sheehan, who twice was victorious in the Mainland Class B (1301-1600cc) in his first two full seasons of rallying, before setting his sights on the NZRC for 2019.

Having begun a partnership with experienced co-driver Glenn Goldring late in 2018, Sheehan has taken plenty from the relationship in the season to date.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying the relationship we’ve developed both inside and outside the car. We have a lot of laughs, but Goldie is also a man who knows how to get down to business when it matters,” says Sheehan.

Another new addition to the team that has lifted them in 2019 is crew chief Paul Cartmell, who comes with a large deal of professionalism and knowledge after stints with several top teams in recent seasons.

“Waitomo presents another opportunity to learn and experience some more top quality New Zealand roads, with the stages looking fast but technical, with several sections that look like they could catch out the unwary – I can’t wait to tackle them in the Truck Moves Ford Fiesta R2.

“Our sponsors have been key to making this season possible. We cannot thank them enough for their support.”

Sheehan and the team would like to thank Truck Moves NZ, Frankton Automotive, Frankton Tyre Services, Interislander, Speedy Signs & EmbroidMe Queenstown, Winmax by Paddon Rallysport and Palmside for their support throughout the 2019 season.

The 2019 Handy Rentals Waitomo Rally starts from Piopio at 7:25am, with six mammoth special stages totalling 198.04km of special stages in the Waikato region, before the rally finishes at Southwell School in Hamilton from 5pm.

Recent Results
PosDriverTotal 
1New ZealandRaana Horan2:13:04.0
2New ZealandKingsley Jones+18.1
3New ZealandQuentin Palmer+3:20.5
4New ZealandMatthew Jensen+4:15.4
5New ZealandMatt Adams+4:43.9
6New ZealandBen Thomasen+4:44.2
7New ZealandMarcus van Klink+5:27.6
8New ZealandGaret Thomas+5:56.5
9New CaledoniaEugene Creugnet+6:47.8
10New ZealandTony Gosling+8:13.8
11New ZealandBruce Herbert+8:18.8
12New ZealandDylan Turner+8:30.8
13New ZealandBrent Taylor+8:41.1
14New ZealandShane Murland+8:46.2
15New ZealandWayne Rowberry+9:30.0
16New ZealandWayne Pittams+10:32.6
17New ZealandJeff Judd+10:37.3
18New ZealandCharlie Evans+10:39.9
19New ZealandBrynley Smith+10:44.8
20New ZealandWarwick Redfern+11:07.2
PosDriverTotal 
1New ZealandCarter Strang48:22.1
2New ZealandTony Gosling+1:27.5
3New ZealandDavid Clearwater+1:50.0
4New ZealandDavid Scoles+3:08.9
5New ZealandSteven Thompson+3:09.8
6New ZealandJeremy McIlwrick+3:51.1
7New ZealandMark Parsons+4:24.3
8New ZealandMurray Marshall+4:34.5
9New ZealandRichie Chadwick+4:39.3
10New ZealandNeville Krammer+4:39.9
11New ZealandScott Simpson+4:56.6
12New ZealandDean Johnston+5:01.6
13New ZealandGavin Read+5:29.7
14New ZealandRobert McConachie+6:52.9
15New ZealandIan Warren+7:06.3
16New ZealandCraig Cormack+7:09.5
17New ZealandScott Ashton+7:28.1
18New ZealandBrett Maddren+8:04.1
19New ZealandCaleb Macdonald+8:46.2
20New ZealandNigel King+9:52.8
2019 Points
PosNamePoints
1EstoniaOtt TÄNAK240
2FranceSébastien OGIER212
3BelgiumThierry NEUVILLE199
4NorwayAndreas MIKKELSEN102
5United KingdomKris MEEKE98
6United KingdomElfyn EVANS90
7FinlandJari-Matti LATVALA84
8FinlandEsapekka LAPPI83
8FinlandTeemu SUNINEN83
10SpainDani SORDO72
11FranceSébastien LOEB39
12United KingdomGus GREENSMITH6
13FranceYoann BONATO4
14FranceStéphane SARRAZIN2
15FranceAdrien FOURMAUX1
PosNamePoints
1New ZealandHayden Paddon100
2AustraliaHarry Bates77
3New ZealandAndrew Hawkeswood55
3AustraliaLewis Bates55
5AustraliaMolly Taylor45
6New ZealandJack Hawkeswood42
7New ZealandDavid Holder30
8AustraliaMarcus Walkem20
9New ZealandMike Young19
10JapanSuguru Kawana12
PosNamePoints
1New ZealandBen Hunt176
2New ZealandJosh Marston122
3New ZealandDylan Thomson89
4New ZealandKingsley Jones84
5New ZealandDylan Turner83
5New ZealandMarcus Van Klink83
7New ZealandRaana Horan75
8New ZealandAnthony Jones70
9New ZealandMatt Summerfield61
10New ZealandWayne Pittams60
11New ZealandPhil Campbell55
12New ZealandMike Sheehan49
13New ZealandCharlie Evans47
14New ZealandBruce Herbert46
14New ZealandAndrew Hawkeswood46
16New ZealandJack Hawkeswood43
17New ZealandJeff Judd42
18New ZealandBrian Green38
18New ZealandJob Quantock38
20New ZealandRobbie Stokes34
PosNamePoints
1New ZealandDylan Turner109
2New ZealandBen Thomasen83
3New ZealandWayne Pittams61
4New ZealandPhil Campbell56
5New ZealandCharlie Evans49
6New ZealandDylan Thomson48
7New ZealandAnthony Jones40
8New ZealandBrent Taylor34
9New ZealandStephen Barker33
10New ZealandDaniel Alexander32
11New ZealandBrian Green31
12New ZealandJeff Judd29
12New ZealandWayne Rowberry29
14New ZealandMike Goldsbury28
15New ZealandPhil Macquarie27
15New ZealandDaniel Haines27
17New ZealandEthan O'Hagan22
18New ZealandDoug Adnitt17
18New ZealandScott Rutherford17
20New ZealandMcCrae Sloper16
PosNamePoints
1New ZealandGaret Thomas99
2New ZealandJob Quantock98
3New ZealandJosh Marston82
4New ZealandRegan Ross80
5New ZealandMatthew Wright74
5New ZealandMarcus Van Klink74
7New ZealandMatt Summerfield73
8New ZealandSean Haggarty71
9New ZealandJeff Judd61
10New ZealandGarry Cliff47
10New ZealandRobbie Stokes47
12New ZealandPhil Collins40
12New ZealandJohn Giltrap40
12New ZealandDavid Gee40
15New ZealandTim Smith35
16New ZealandDeane Buist33
17New ZealandBrad Harris32
18New ZealandNick Marston29
19New ZealandDavid Taylor21
20New ZealandDave Ollis20
PosNamePoints
1New ZealandEddie Bell110
1New ZealandHaydn McKenzie110
3New ZealandDavid Rogers106
4New ZealandBarry Kirk-Burnnand104
5New ZealandAndrew Oakley96
5New ZealandSteven Kirk-Burnnand96
5New ZealandMike Tubbs96
8New ZealandAnthony Butler94
9New ZealandJeremy Friar90
10New ZealandRory Callaway86
10New ZealandTim James86
10New ZealandGraeme Wong86
10New ZealandEddie Grooten86
14New ZealandGraeme Drummond84
15New ZealandTim McIver82
16New ZealandShane Walden81
17AustraliaRobert Darrington79
17New ZealandRichard Gillies79
19New ZealandIvan Knauf78
19New ZealandJohn Rae78