Competitors in the 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ, face an all new challenge for round 5, the VINZ Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel. The Whitianga based event is a new addition to the championship and will be contested over 135 kilometres of gravel roads on the Coromandel Peninsula.
The battleground for competitors includes stages at Castlerock, Tapu Coroglen and the renowned Coromandel '309 Road,’ a mix of demanding technical sections through the twisting ranges to fast and flowing runs towards the coastline. The event which has generated fantastic support from the Thames Coromandel District Council provides a level playing field for the 61 entries.
Heading the field are the newly crowned 2014 champions Richard and Sara Mason. The Masterton pairing have taken victories at all four rounds to date in their BNT Subaru Impreza. With only two events remaining the prospect of a clean sweep of all rounds, a feat never achieved in national rallying history, will be one step closer if the Masons can continue their form on the Coromandel.
Second seed is young Nelson driver Ben Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn in their Subaru Impreza. Hunt and Rawstorn have been the only team to threaten the Mason dominance in 2014, and the tight twisty nature of the Coromandel stages should suit Hunts car and driving style. The Nelson pairing have excelled in this type of terrain at previous national rounds, and will be looking to use this to their advantage at the new event.
Third seed and third in the championship is Tauranga Mitsubishi driver David Holder and co-driver Ben Hawkins. This pair has been impressive in their debut season in the outright 4WD class with a fast consistent approach. Also expected to feature in the battle for podium honours are Canterbury Subaru driver Matt Summerfield, Te Arohas Lance Williams and spectacular Auckland driver Andrew Hawkeswood in the Mazda 2.
Carrying the hopes of the locals will be Coromandels Alex Kelsey in his radical Mad Creation 2. The car designed and built by Kelsey and featuring a V6 powered 4WD drivetrain cloaked in a Peugeot 208 body has generated worldwide interest since it's reveal earlier this year. Kelsey's creation will make its National championship debut on the Coromandel, and if initial teething issues have been sorted he will be a real contender on home roads.
Leading the class battles are young Hawkesbay driver Max Bayley (2WD), Kaiapoi's Marcus Van Klink heads the BNT Historics in the spectacular Group B Mazda RX7, Timaru's Darren Galbraith the Gull Rally Challenge 4WD and Aucklands Jeff Torkington Gull Rally Challenge 2WD.
The VINZ Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel commences with a Rally Show, driver autograph session and Ceremonial Start on Blacksmiths Lane in Whitianga on Friday evening from 4.00pm. Saturday’s competitive action gets underway with the first special stage at 7.10am with a total of 135 kilometres of competition covered before the victory celebrations will be held from 4.00pm back in Whitianga following the completion of an afternoon tarmac superspecial stage on Joan Gaskell drive in Whitianga.
The VINZ Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel provides great spectator viewing opportunities with a number of Spectator vantage points. A rally map is available free to download from the event website http://www.rallynz.org.nz/2014-goldrush-rally-of-coromandel or it can be collected from Rally HQ at the Mercury Bays Sport Complex, or one of the Tourist Information Centres on the Coromandel. Spectators are reminded to follow the instructions of marshals and ensure they stand well clear of the road’s edge – inside the taped off viewing areas.
The 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ is contested over 6 rounds across the nation – Rally of Whangarei, 11-13 April; Rally of Otago, 10-11 May; Canterbury Rally, 01-02 June; Rally Wairarapa, 28 June; Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel, 23 August; Daybreaker Rally (Manawatu), 27 September.