Auckland pair Hadyn McKenzie and co-driver Matthew Sayers (Mitsubishi Evo 10 4WD) have taken an early lead in this year’s Targa Hawke’s Bay event.
After the first of three days’ competition over seven stages comprising 121km of closed roads through the south-eastern Waikato today they have a 21 second lead over fellow Mitsubishi Evo 10 4WD driver David Rogers and his co-driver Aidan Kelly, and a 1.18.1 buffer on last year’s event winner Steven and co-driving brother Carl in the first of the 47-strong field’s 2WD cars, Steven’s BMW 318ti.
Through the morning’s stages – as well as three of the four after lunch the trio had to play second fiddle to multi-time Targa Rotorua event winner Leigh Hopper and co-driver Michael Goudie in Hopper’s new Subaru WRX. However, despite winning six of the day’s seven stages Hopper and Goudie are languishing down in P36 on the leaderboard after a throttle body issue in Stage 5 (the 20.37km Maungatautari south of Karapiro) saw the Subaru slow and eventually stop with the pair losing 10 minutes to McKenzie who up until that point had been duking it out with Rogers and Kelly for second place.
Much to their relief, after stripping the throttle body and cleaning and re-assembling it at the side of the road the car burst into life again and ran faultlessly from that point on, allowing Hopper and Goudie to return to their own stage-winning ways for the rest of the afternoon, and only be left ruing the time they lost.
Earlier in the day the event lost two other potential front runners in Clark Proctor and co-driver Sue O’Neill (Nissan GT-R35) and Jason Gill and Mark Robinson (VW Polo R) to mechanical issues, though 44 of the 47-starters made it back to parc ferme in Rotorua this afternoon with the expectation of continuing tomorrow.
Despite an issue of their own early on with their car’s power steering system, Mark and his co-driving father Chris Kirk-Burnnand (BMW E30 M3) not only again spread-eagled the HW Richardson Classic class field, they ended up with a spot (9th) in the overall event top 10. Not bad, considering that the next Classic car home this afternoon was the Toyota Corolla AE86 of Palmerston North driver Rob Ryan and his Auckland-based co-driver Paul Burborough back in P20.
This year’s three-day Targa Hawke’s Bay event has been organised and put on in association with The Piako Group. It continues tomorrow with 153.75 kms of closed special stages and 273kms of transport stages between Rotorua and Havelock North, and finishes on Sunday afternoon after a further 162km of closed special stages in the Hawke’s Bay.
Once they complete the new three-day Targa Hawke’s Bay event this weekend the country’s tarmac rally specialists will then focus their efforts on preparing for the full five-day 25th anniversary Targa New Zealand event which starts in Taupo on October 29 and is set to finish in Palmerston North on Saturday November 02.
2019 Targa Hawke’s Bay Fri-Sun May 17-19 2019
Day 1 Results
1. # 981 Haydn McKenzie/Matthew Sayers (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 53:44.2
2. #961 David Rogers/Aidan Kelly (Mitsubishi Evo 10) 54:05.2 +0:21.0/0:21.0
3. #756 Steven + Carl Kirk-Burnnand (BMW E36 318ti) 55:02.3 +1:18.1/0:57.1
4. #667 Eddie Bell/Blair Forbes (BMW M3) 55:29.6 +1:45.4/0:27.3
5. #746 Robert Darrington/David Abetz (BMW M3) 56:03.0 +2:18.8/0:33.4
6. #936 Rory + Stewart Callaway (Subaru WRX)56:27.2 +2:43.0/0:24.2
7. #631 Mike Tubbs/Mike Vincent (BMW M2) 56:31.1 +2:46.9/0:03.9
8. #966 Andrew Oakley/Steve Hutchins (Audi RS5) 57:07.9 +3:23.7/0:36.8
9. #293 Mark + Chris Kirk-Burnnand (BMW E30 M3) 57:13.6 +3:29.4/0:05.7
10. #988 Graeme Wong/Kim Blatchley (Subaru WRX) 57:56.0 +4:11.8/0:42.4
36. Leigh Hopper/Michael Goudie (Subaru WRX) 1.03.074 +9.23.2/0.54.4