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Double Victory for Herbert and West at Rotorua

Double Victory for Herbert and West at Rotorua

Subaru drivers Bruce Herbert and Chris West were both celebrating at the end of the Rotorua International Rally.

Herbert and co-driver Robert Ryan won the event for a fifth consecutive time in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI, while West and pace notes man Chris Cobham won the National Standard Production Rally Championship in their Impreza WRX STI.

Herbert finished the three day event, the second round of the Asia Pacific Championship, 1 minute and 50.3 seconds ahead of joint second placegetters Karamjit Singh and Fumio Nutahara, while the next Kiwi driver, Andrew Hawkeswood, was fourth, 2 minutes 11.8 seconds behind Herbert.

Herbert heads to the final round of the national series in Hawkes Bay next month with a 28 points lead in the series and only has to score three more points to take a fourth consecutive national title.

"It's gone exactly according to plan," said Herbert. "I'm over the moon. We may not have been the fastest each day, but we were the most consistent."

"It's the biggest point's lead we've had in the championship all season. It's been a close battle and the pace has been pretty hot all year."

"Fortunately we could drive a little conservatively today to make sure of the win."

Even so over the final day's five stages, Herbert extended his lead by a further 27 seconds.

"We just aimed to take no risks," said Herbert. "Rotorua is not my favourite event, but we always go well here. You have to use your brains as well as your right foot. It's a long hard rally and you can't have problems."

"We managed to sneak a lead and then they can't catch you. I think just about everybody else had some kind of problem."

Herbert said the Subaru had performed impeccably over the three days. "The service crew has been brilliant. The guys have been with me for a long time. One of them has worked on my cars for 25 years. I don't touch the car. They do a great job."

Herbert is quite certain this will be his last Rotorua event and his last national championship campaign.

"I still enjoy driving," said Herbert. "But I don't always enjoy the pressure of doing the championship. Maybe we'll just do some rallies for fun in the future." Although he did not figure in the overall placings after puncturing his Impreza's radiator on Friday, West picked up enough bonus points on the second and third legs to win his third National Group N Championship.

"We were pretty down after having to stop in the Motu with overheating," said West. "But then we figured we could still wrap up the title with just the bonus points."

"The team did a great job fixing the car on Friday night."

West who is partially supported by Possum Bourne Motorsport said he followed the late Bourne's philosophy.

"He never gave up while there was still a chance so we backed ourselves and have come away with what we came here for."

West is 35 points ahead of John Giltrap and with a maximum of 32 points available at Hawkes Bay, he can go to that event as the 2003 Group N National Champion.

Results

Rally of Rotorua

Round 4 NZ National Championship

Round 2 Asia Pacific Championship

1, B Herbert (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) 2 hrs 58 mins 32.6 secs; 2=, K Singh (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.00.22.9; 2=, F Nutahara (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.00.22.9; 4, A Hawkeswood (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.00.44.4; 5, R Mason (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.02.30.6; 6, A Kremer (Mitsubishi Lancer) 3.02.57.8.

National Championship Points

Overall: 1, Herbert, 139; 2, G Argyle, 111; 3, Mason, 88; 4, Hawkeswood, 83; 5, Bawden, 73; West, 59, 6.

Group N: 1, West, 129; 2, J Giltrap, 94; 3, M Tapper, 89; 4, R Vizible, 62; 5, D Templeman, 59.

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