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Tough weekend shatters Cunningham’s title hopes

Tough weekend shatters Cunningham’s title hopes

A tricky weekend in the forests around Canterbury and a small mistake have ended Clint Cunningham’s chances of becoming the New Zealand Rally Championship rookie title.

Cunningham headed to Rally Canterbury, the fourth round, needing a top result to keep himself in contention for the rookie title after problems at the opening two rounds at a DNF at the previous round.

But the wet conditions combined with a water crossing in the opening stage saw the windscreen fog up on the RCK Contractors Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4, leaving Cunningham to battle through the stage with limited visibility and he lost more than three minutes to the leaders.

With the opportunity to remedy the problem at service, Cunningham immediately was back on the pace and knocking on the door of the top ten, but on stage six Cunningham went slightly wide on a corner and the wet forestry roads sucked him off the road. With his car stuck although largely undamaged, Cunningham and co-driver Greg Ruka were forced to retire from the event.

“Unfortunately this one was all my own fault,” said Cunningham. “We were trying hard to make up for the time we lost in the first couple of stages and just got caught out. There’s not a lot of damage which is good, but it really is the end of the rookie title dream.”

Cunningham and his team now face a big job turning the car around for this weekend’s Rally of the North, which is based in Paihia.

As part of the Rally Xtreme series, Cunningham is still in contention for a podium finish in the pre-2000 four-wheel drive class, so has plenty to fight for on Saturday’s event, which covers almost 180km of special stages.


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