New Zealand’s rising rally star Ari Pettigrew is looking to put his national rally campaign back on track this Saturday in the penultimate round of the championship to be raced over roads in the Waitomo area.
Putting the disappointment of mechanical issues early in the season and a crash on his home event in Canterbury behind him, Pettigrew and co-driver David Calder have had a good build-up to the Handy Rentals Rally Waitomo.
The pair had a successful shakedown with the Stadium Cars Ford Fiesta at the Hanmer Rally last month, and took a class win at a local rallysprint.
The biggest challenge facing the pair this weekend is the job of writing their own pacenotes, which requires the driver to call a description of the road while driving to a 70 kilometre per hour speed limit. These descriptions are then called back to him by the co-driver when they are racing over the closed road in an attempt to record the fastest possible time.
“The closed road ‘special stages’ in this Saturday’s rally are quite long, with four of them over 35 kilometres each in length, so that’s going to take a lot of concentration to call and write down all that information in one pass over the stages,” said co-driver David Calder.
“After spending all day Friday writing the notes for about 200 kilometres, we then need to check them and be prepared for an early start on Saturday morning.”
While Calder has been busy organising schedules for the event and preparing to write the pacenotes, Pettigrew has been working hard getting the rally car thoroughly prepared.
“It’s been a massive job rebuilding and testing the car, but I’m confident it’s all good to go,” said Pettigrew.
“We’re putting the early season behind us and pushing the re-set button. Our aim is to finish the rally, get more practice at our pacenoting and see where it all ends up on Saturday night.
“We’ll obviously want to benchmark ourselves against the others in the class, which is something we haven’t been able to do enough of this year.
“The Stadium Cars Fiesta feels strong and I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel.”
Magnum Vehicle Compliance and DMACK Tyres have joined Stadium Cars in supporting Pettigrew in the NZRC Category 2 class for two-wheel-drive cars.
The Handy Rentals Rally Waitomo has a ceremonial start in Hamilton on Friday night before the rally crews tackle six special stages in the King Country and Waitomo districts before returning to the Hamilton Car Club to finish from 5.25pm.