Whakatane rally driver Jono Shapley & his rookie co-driver Sam Byrne hold a slender points lead in the Gull Rally Challenge coming out of the International Rally of Whangarei.
“We’re stoked to be in the lead, but there’s a lot of rallying between here and the end of the season so we’re just concentrating on building our speed and finishing every rally” says Shapley.
2017 is the Rallylife Motorsport pairings first season together, and is the first time Byrne has co-driven.
“There’s a lot to learn, but I’m loving all of it and building my confidence so that I can help Jono squeeze out the extra speed that we need.”
Their season started off slowly in Dunedin, with a turbo hose blowing off their Mitsubishi Evo4 6 corners into the first stage, and without the right bits to repair it, had to limp through 3 stages to get to service. Following service, the pair enjoyed 10kms of full speed rallying before losing 3rd gear.
“When that happened, I said to Sam ‘I’m just going to have to try and carry more speed through the corners to make up for it.’ It wasn’t ideal, but it got us to the finish.”
They enjoyed better luck in Whangarei, with the car running beautifully and allowing them to concentrate on driving.
“The conditions were horrible, rain and slippery clay, but it was the same for everyone. We came home 4th in our class, and now we’re looking forward to Christchurch in 4 weeks for the Lone Star Canterbury Rally.”