This coming weekend sees the start of the Total Lubricants Rally Xtreme Challenge for 2014, now in its third season. This year sees the series again contest 5 rounds, from the Wairarapa to the far north. However there are some new events and new roads to be contested.
The Taranaki Tarmac Rally debuts in the Challenge and marks the first time sealed roads are used for anything other than touring between stages in this series. Meanwhile the inclusion of Rally New Zealand sees a change of venue not only for Rally Xtreme, but also Rally New Zealand itself, as they take the teams to the Coromandel for the first time.
However first up is the Tomoana Warehousing Rally Hawkes Bay on Sunday 1st June. Returning to the roads north of Napier and around Wairoa, a challenging 133km of action over many of the old favourites of the area will see 50 plus entries take the start line.
The excitement that has been building in the lead up to the season has been all about the new vehicles, and a certain pair of Peugeots. Alex Kelsey and his team have spent the last 2 years custom building a space framed, V6 powered, gravel spitting monster, in the form of a Peugeot. Dubbed the MC2 (Mad Creation 2) there isn’t much Peugeot left as Kelsey has sourced what he believes to be the best parts from around the world and then created all of the connecting bits needed to fit it together into a complete package.
Squaring off against this demon is a special import from Poland. Patrick Malley has brought in what is known as a 208 Proto Peugeot. Used in the Polish national championship, the cars are based on a WRC2 platform, but is in fact a Peugeot 208 with Mitsubishi Evo X running gear and engine, married to a 6 speed sequential gear box. It is a proven rally car in Europe, so it will be exciting to see how it handles New Zealand roads.
Meanwhile the Challenge sees the return of many well know regulars as well, including the two time defending champion Geof Argyle. Pushing hard will be Dylan Turner as he looks to go one better this season and knock Argyle off his perch. Lance Williams has been showing fantastic form so far this year, and has again registered his Impreza R4 for the Challenge.
Not to be out done, the two wheel drive classes also see new cars appearing, with Brent Taylor having registered in his 2014 Toyota FT86. While last years 2WD “Driver of the Series” Max Bayley will return, stepping up to the Open 2WD Class for 2014 in his newly purchased Ford Fiesta.
“This is the most exciting start to the Rally Xtreme Season we’ve had”, says Series co-ordinator Tanya Gwynne. “it is certainly shaping up to be highly competitive and very entertaining”.
Once again the competitors will be competing for $500 cash on the nominated power stages, this year sponsored by Pyroclassic Fires. While Brian Green is again supporting the series, with the Brian Green Property Group “Driver of the Rally”.
Rally Hawkes Bay starts on Saturday 31st May with a Meet & Greet at V.J Distributors, 1128 Omahu Rd, Hastings between 3.00pm – 6.00pm. The Peugeots will be on display, along with the new look Total Lubricants sponsored car of Geof Argyle. Then it is all action on Sunday 1st June as the rubber is hits the gravel. Head to www.hbcarclub.co.nz to get all of the information you need to catch a slice of the action.