Eketahuna Becomes Motorsport Central
5 October 2013
Eketahuna Becomes Motorsport Central
Eketahuna. South of a world famous brewing tower in Mangatainoka, and north of the Mt Bruce Wildlife Sanctuary, this iconic Tararua township has a proud history. Used as a staging post in pre-European times for access to the wider Tararaua district and on south to the Wairarapa, it was settled by mainly Scandinavian immigrants in the mid 1870s.
For the past 11 years it has been used as a staging post of another sort, as a service park for the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa. For this one day a year the township swells as hundreds, if not thousands, descend for what has become an equally iconic motorsport event for the region.
With 68 competing crews in the 2013 incarnation of this national championship event, the town will be teaming on Saturday 5th October, as competing cars, service crews, supporters, officials, media and spectators all look to get refreshment before heading back to the competition stages.
The excitement this year has many layers. In the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship there are 5 major titles still up for grabs, including the overall Gold Star championship. Hayden Paddon currently leads, and this will be the last chance to see him in NZ before he heads to Spain to contest the next World Rally Championship event. Driving a Ford RS WRC car as part of the official Qatar M-Sport World Rally team, this will hopefully lead to a full time drive in the WRC main game next year.
Masterton local Richard Mason has now won more NZ championship rallies than any other driver, setting the record at the recent Vantage Aluminium Possum Bourne Memorial Rally. He is now chasing a record beating 5th NZ title, and a win at Rally Wairararpa will likely secure that honour.
Meanwhile some exciting new machinery will also be delighting the crowds. Emma Gilmour hopes to have sorted the gremlins in her Suzuki Swift Maxi. This is no ordinary shopping trolley either, after her team re-built it from scratch into a 4 wheel drive, 1.8 litre turbo, 250kW, gravel spitting shopping trolley.
Debuting at Rally Wairarapa will be Andrew Hawkeswood, where he essentially has done a similar thing to a Mazda 2. Here the standard 1.3 litre engine has been replaced with a 2.3 litre turbo charged version from a Mazda 3 MPS, attached to a 6 speed sequential gearbox and 4 wheel drive.
And if the new cars don’t spin your wheels, then there is an amazing battle brewing in the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally, which has been an integral part of Rally Wairarapa since 2010. The main contenders have three titles to aim for, including the Classic Challenge Trophy and the national Historic Rally Challenge. Here the leading Ford Escort mounted pair of Dean Buist and Jeff Judd are only a few points apart, with Marcus van Klink in his Group B RX7 looking to chase them down.
However this trio aren’t the only ones with significant cars from the golden age of rallying. Barry Varcoe also has a Group B classic in the form of a Toyota Celica TA64. These Group B monsters are from a time where there were few rules and a huge desire by manufacturers to show how fast their models could go.
The result is that Eketahuna will be motorsport central for the day, as history will be made whatever happens. National champions will be crowned while the Tararua and Wairarapa regions get to see the best rallying this country has to offer.
• Round 6 of 2013 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship
• Round 3 of Geartech Central Region Rally Series, (points scoring based on Saturdays results only)
• Round 2 of the Classic Challenge Trophy
• 9 Special Stages
• 134km of competitive Special Stages