The International Rally of Whangarei started out as planned for the Cox Motorsport team of driver Sloan Cox and co-driver Sarah Coatsworth with the pair winning the opening two super specials stages around Pohe Island on Friday night, heading into Saturday’s stages with a 4.2 second lead.
Saturday morning saw the pair continue to set top times as they headed into the first service of the day in 2nd overall. A good run through stage seven saw the team take back the rally lead, however it was not all smooth sailing with the Taslo Engineering Mitsubishi Evo X dying through corners and feeling down on power in the last quarter of the following stage. With limited equipment in the car, they were unable to make road side repairs and the problem escalated.
Coming into the last stage of the day the aim was to get to the finish and make it to service, to attempt to repair the problem. However the weather turned nasty and the stage turned into nothing but mud. Unfortunately with no power and lack of vision it was not to be and when hitting a muddy corner the car did not turn and ended up sliding off a small bank of the outside of a corner.
With the team thinking the motor was at fault and it was time to retire, the super talented Cox Motorsport service crew determined that the turbo was at fault, worked until 3am in the morning to change it and fix the panel damage post the excursion. Thanks to the crew’s hard work and effort the car was restored in time for Sundays stages and was back to a state that Cox could 100% trust again.
Sunday proved to be a better day for Cox with the team showing good speed and consistency in the stages with top stage times being set during the day. The last two stages of the rally again nearly spelled the end for the team when oil starting coming out of the turbo oil drain pipe, producing small fires in the engine bay when pulling up to finish controls. Thankfully the team were able to get to the finish of day two with a 4th overall for the day to secure championship points.
The Cox Motorsport team now turn their attention to Rally Canterbury round three of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship held Sunday 4th June in Christchurch. The action kicks off on Saturday 3rd June with a ceremonial start with the first car starting at 9.00am on Sunday. Over the course of the day 10 stages will be competed in, including 2 night stages. To follow Cox Motorsport’s news in the build up to the event follow us on www.facebook.com/CoxMotorsport and www.twitter.com/CoxMotorsport