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McInnes Falls Victim To Torrid Weather

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McInnes Falls Victim To Torrid Weather At Rally Hawkes Bay

The upper-North Island has had a weekend worth forgetting. Battered by high seas, gale force winds and bitterly cold temperatures, most inhabitants had no choice but to remain locked indoors as the howling storm outside reaped havoc on any unsuspecting tree, fence and deck chair caught in its path.

But spare a thought for the competitors at the fourth round of the 2008 New Zealand Rally Championship, held in the Hawkes Bay over the weekend. Conditions were treacherous as the inevitable storm crept ever closer throughout Saturday’s opening leg, while the second leg was called off entirely after a number of landslips on Saturday night blocked roads and made it too dangerous to continue.

While the weather affected all involved in the Hawkes Bay Rally, it crippled Tauranga’s Callum McInnes more than most. McInnes and co-driver David Calder were excited about the prospects of continuing their strong early-season momentum at ‘The Bay’, but the Milkbar Subaru Impreza was wounded before the first stage had even commenced. A fault with the centre diff on the car made every corner and brake application a real handful.

“It was a real surprise,” McInnes admitted as he returned to service.

“We cruised out and got to the pre-stage check with no dramas, but when I flicked on the centre diff to set it up for the tricky condition, a flashing warning light reverted it to factory default settings – perfect for tarmac rallying, but not so on a soggy wet dirt road!”

Despite the car “wanting to swap ends” every time he hit the brakes and turned the wheel, McInnes soldiered on and was able to post the fifth quickest time in stage two, however a spin on the third stage while trying to make up ground proved costly. Nosing the car over the edge of a bank, the Milkbar Impreza was unable to reverse back onto the road, leaving McInnes and Calder out of the rally after using assistance from the event marshals to extract themselves.

With no damage whatsoever to the car, it was a bitter way to end the event.

“We had a good opportunity to make some ground in the points this weekend, but little issues like this are costly and will hurt us at the end of the season.

“It was a minor issue in the end. Water had seeped into one of the connectors on the centre diff, causing it to short out. It was fixed in less than five minutes, but the cancellation of leg two meant that we didn’t get a chance to redeem ourselves.”

While young gun Hayden Paddon extends his lead at the top of the points standings, the DNF has seen the Milkbar Rally Team slip to seventh in the overall standings, with five points separating McInnes from 2007 Hawkes Bay winner Dean Sumner in sixth place.

The five week break before Rally New Zealand on August 28-31 will be a busy time for the Milkbar squad, with two club rally sprints in the next three weekends to keep McInnes fresh in the seat and continuing the development of the car.

A dedicated test day in the weeks leading up to the International event will also give the team a chance to assess and develop the Subaru’s setup characteristics on the harder compound Pirelli tyres the NZRC competitors will use at Mystery Creek.

”We normally run a softer compound Dunlop tyre, and these are a great tyre for consistency and grip throughout a rally,” McInnes said.

“The Pirellis will be a different story, but the test day will give us the proper info we need to give it our all at Rally New Zealand.”


2008 NEW ZEALAND RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP - Points after Round Four of Six

Pos Driver Co-Driver Car Make Points
1 Hayden Paddon John Kennard Mitsubishi Evo 9 196
2 Chris West Garry Cowan Mitsubishi Evo 9 167
3 Stewart Taylor Warwick Searle Mitsubishi Evo 9 139
4 Brett Martin Grant Marra Mitsubishi Evo 9 134
5 Richard Mason Sara Mason Subaru Impreza 129
6 Dean Sumner Paul Fallon Mitsubishi Evo 9 98
7 Callum McInnes David Calder Subaru Impreza 93
8 Emma Gilmour Jeff Judd Subaru Impreza 82
9 Andre Meier Jason Farmer Subaru Impreza 80
10 Sloan Cox Tarryn Cox Mitsubishi Evo 8 79

2008 New Zealand Rally Championship Calendar
Round One April 12-13, 2008 – Rally Wairarapa
Round Two May 10-11, 2008 – Rally Otago
Round Three June 07-08, 2008 – Rally Whangarei
Round Four July 26-27, 2008 – Rally Hawkes Bay
Round Five August 28-31, 2008 – Rally New Zealand
Round Six September 20-21, 2008 – Rally Nelson

Callum McInnes and David Calder are proudly supported by Milkbar Calf Rearing Systems - “Healthy Calves, Healthy Profit.”

© Scoop Media

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