Dunlop’s top rally exponents head south on Saturday for the 40th edition of Rally of Canterbury – round four of the NZRC.
The nine-stage one-day rally will start and finish at Christchurch’s shopping centre ‘The Palms’, with stages through north Canterbury’s Ashley and Okuku forestry blocks.
Of the 54 entrants, Dunlop competitors dominate the top three places in the championship, with the 2013 title still wide open.
Nelson’s Ben Hunt, who leapfrogged Richard Mason with his maiden victory at Daybreaker Rally, sits on 68 points, 20 behind Hayden Paddon, who’s once again missing from action.
“The main goal of this year is to finish every stage of every rally and get as many kms under our belts as possible,” said Hunt, who is driving a Group N Subaru STI. “That’s what we’ll focus on for the remaining three events.”
Mason, in a Subaru STI to R4 specification, is still on the hunt for his first win of the season. “The fact of the matter is, we need to bag big points and to do that we need to win – which is our aim.”
“The big thing to consider is we’ve used up our wildcard (drop your worst round), so we need to make the rest of the season count.
“While Hayden is away, we need to get as many points as possible, so when he returns we can have a bigger battle.”
Also chasing glory is last year’s NZRC runner-up Emma Gilmour and third place-getter and Matt Jansen.
Leading Dunlop’s charge in the Historic category (pre-1987) is defending champion Marcus van Klink in his Mazda RX7, who sits third in the series – 27 points off the lead.
TV coverage will air on TV3’s CRC Motorsport Show, on Sunday, 25 August from 4pm.
2013 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship
1. Hayden Paddon, Geraldine, 88
2. Ben Hunt, Nelson, 68
3. Richard Mason, Masterton, 62
4. Chris West, Timaru, 47
5. Matt Summerfield, Rangiora, 35