Geof Argyle Defends his Rally Title
Geof Argyle defends his Total Lubricants Rally Xtreme Challenge title
A delighted and slightly relieved Geof Argyle has defended his Total Lubricants Rally Xtreme Challenge title. After a season beset by niggling issues, it was his example of battling to the finish, no matter what the set back that has seen the former national champion return for his second Rally Xtreme title.
The last round of the series was no different for the Mitsubishi driver as a puncture almost ended his chances at the Vantage Aluminium Possum Bourne Memorial Rally. The resulting time loss pushed Argyle back to finish 6th of the challenge contenders, while it was Sloan Cox and Dylan Turner who went toe to toe for the round win, fittingly sponsored by Possum Bourne Motorsport.
Initially Turner had established a 17 second lead after 3 stages, however a flying run through the 4th stage saw Cox close to within 5 seconds of the lead. Again Turner responded to build a lead, only to see Cox slowly whittle that away and take the lead for the first time on stage 7. With the remaining stages on the seal, Cox then proceeded to build a lead of his own, which ultimately was helped when Turner limped through the final stage. For Cox it was his first win in the Rally Xtreme Challenge, and a highlight of his career to date.
Third at this round was Ben Thomasen in an impressive run, as he recorded his best result of the season. But he was pushed all the way, having been locked in a very tight battle with another rising star, Nigel Adams. With nothing more than a few seconds separating them for most of the day, it was the last few stages that saw Thomasen pull away to secure the final podium spot.
As a result Adams took the XT1 class win, with Lee Robson also recording one of his best results and taking second in class. Quentin Palmer recaptured some of his earlier form to take third.
After Grant Liston had problems early on the anticipated battle in the XT3 – Open 2WD class between Liston and Phil Campbell evaporated and so the focus became front wheel drive versus rear wheel drive, old versus new. And the battle couldn’t have been closer as Campbell in his Fiesta R2 took on the classics of Marcus Van Klink in his Group B RX7 and Dean Buist in an Escort.
By the end of stage 2 there was 0.4 seconds covering these three, with Buist taking the early lead from Campbell and van Klink. That lead changed hands multiple times on the next series of gravel stages, where Campbell emerged with a lead over Buist and van Klink going into the final series of seal stages. Unfortunately for Buist he wasn’t able to match the pace on seal and he dropped back behind van Klink, while Campbell took the 2WD honours, and the XT3 class win.
The result also saw van Klink take the XT5 Classic class win, with Buist and then Jeff Judd rounding out the top spots. However Buist did get some consolation by winning the Dive A Sprintcar Power Stage and collecting the $500 cash.
The Total Lubricants Rally Xtreme Challenge again highlighted the importance of securing consistent results over all rounds. Geof Argyle has demonstrated this twice in two years. Dylan Turner’s second placing at this final round was enough to secure second overall, one that he was happy to take after the highs and lows he has endured. However, one to put his hand up this season, and one to watch for the future is Nigel Adams. A slow start hampered him, but in a year that saw him take is maiden win, his third placing overall for the Challenge and first in the XT1 class is an excellent result.
Again featuring in the results at the final round has seen Lee Robson and Quentin Palmer feature in the Challenge results with second and third respectively in the XT1 class behind Adams.
The XT2 – Club 4WD class saw another good effort by Marty Smith to come home in front of Alan Smith. The win here allowing Marty to take the class win for the series, again after a year of ups and downs.
Despite a less than expected result for Grant Liston at this event, his points for the season still sees him take the XT3 – Open 2WD class win over the hard charging Phil Campbell.
XT4 – Club 2WD saw a dominant performance by teenager Max Bayley, as he not only took the round win, but also wrapped up the class win for the series as well. He will certainly be another to watch for the future. Consistent results saw Kevin Preest and Daniel Norris take second and third for the series respectively.
While the battle for the XT5 Classic class was enthralling for the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally, the class win for the Challenge series was the result of a fine effort by Lee Stringer, with Roger Goss taking second, over van Klink in third.
Without a good co-driver any rally team will suffer and not allow the driver to reach their potential. This year the co-drivers award as topped by Joelle Eyre, with Tanya Gwynn in second. However, just sneaking into third, by 1 point was Glenn Goldring, with Tracey lance in fourth.
“This season has been fantastic”, says Rally Xtreme organiser Tanya Gwynn. “The level of support we have had from so many really has made it great”. Certainly the support for the Make-A-Wish foundation has seen over $5,000 raised.
The 2013 Rally Xtreme Challenge has seen many dramas, exciting competition, hard fought battles, and the development of many drivers. A number have stepped up and shown they have huge potential for the future, which bodes well for rallying in New Zealand.
The organisers offer a sincere thanks to all those involved in this season. From Total Lubricant as naming sponsors, to the many businesses who supported the Challenge through the season, to the organising clubs, volunteers, marshals, and spectators who have been out there helping to make this year the best yet for the Rally Xtreme Challenge. The organising committee are now looking forward to next season and the continuing development of the sport.
Calendar: Total Lubricants RALLY XTREME Challenge
Round 1 - 20 April - MTA Rally of Maramarua
Round 2 - 2 June - Tomoana Warehousing Hawkes Bay Rally
Round 3 - 29 June - GoPro Daybreaker Rally, Manawatu
Round 4 - 17 August - Pahia Rally, Rally of the North
Round 5 - 7 September - Possum Bourne Memorial Rally