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Rotorua Reckoning for Westy

Rotorua Reckoning for Westy

Chris West will not be going all out to win this weekend's Rally of Rotorua, the fourth round of the national championship.

The event is also the third round of the Asia Pacific championship and as a consequence has attracted several international crews, including Toshi Arai, who currently leads the Production Car World Championship.

"Our main aim is to protect our lead in the championship," said West, who starts with a 21 points lead over Emma Gilmour and 22 in front of Richard Mason.

"It would be nice to keep in touch with the Asia Pacific guys," said Westy, who is the defending national champion in the Subaru Rally Team New Zealand Impreza WRX STI. "But not at all costs!"

Westy said he would asses the pace of the top international drivers, who will also be in standard production Group N cars, in the early stages.

"We can run at our own pace or fight for a podium position," said Westy. "I think with the pace Richard and I had at Wairarapa we should be on the case."

Apart from Mason, Westy will also be keeping his eye on Mark Tapper and the consistently fast Gilmour, who is the only top driver to have scored points in all six heats held so far.

With co-driver Garry Cowan, Westy will go to the three day event with a better selection of Dunlop tyres than he had at the last round in the Wairarapa.

Seeded fifth behind four of the international drivers, Westy is looking forward to not having to sweep the road clear of loose gravel like he has at the Otago and Wairarapa rounds.

"I just hope the weather stays fine right through until Sunday," he said.

Friday and Saturday's stages, including the torturous Motu Rd, are combined to make up the first heat of the event on which championship points are allocated. The second heat, worth equal points, is on Sunday over just four stages.

"Rotorua is very important for the championship," said Westy. "After Sunday the final two rounds are only single heat events, so if we can maintain or increase our point's lead this weekend it'll put us in a strong position for the final two rounds."

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