With the absence of a number of 2023 Mainland Rally Championship drivers and teams from the fourth round of the season due to NZ Rally Championship commitments, both the overall and Class titles may well be in for a shake-up this weekend at the one-day Rally Nelson. Canterbury’s Dylan Thomson (Ford Fiesta R4) now has the opportunity to move into the overall lead, with Josh Marston not having entered.
Thomson’s opportunity comes after some hard work with an ounce of luck in the opening three rounds. Having finished fifth at the season-opening Rally Otago, Thomson then went on to finish second overall at both Rally Canterbury and the South Canterbury Rally and sits just six points off the overall lead.
David Quantock (Skoda R5) may well be the quickest on Saturday ahead of Sean Haggarty (Subaru WRX), although Thomson has shown all season that you don’t have to be the fastest to finish on the podium.
Class titles may also see a shake-up. Mike Matheson/Gordon Legge (Toyota Vitz) continue their battle with Pat Norris/Geoff Parr (Toyota Yaris), who continues to lead Class A 2WD 0-1300cc) by 12 points.
At the last round in South Canterbury, Kerry Sloan (Toyota Starlet) closed the gap to Class B (2WD 1301-1600cc) leader David Birkett to just six-points. With both entered in the event, they will also be joined by Jonty Brenssell (Toyota Starlet), Dean Schroder (Toyota Trueno) and Brendon Wadsworth (Toyota Starlet).
Dylan Thomson (Ford Fiesta R4) also has an opportunity to increase his lead in Class C (2WD 1601cc and over) back to Deane Buist (Toyota Corolla).
With the top three runners in Class D (4WD) – Josh Marston, Caleb MacDonald and Robbie Stokes, absent from the round, Dave Ollis (Subaru WRX Sti) may well fight for Class points with David Quantock (Skoda R5) and Sean Haggarty (Subaru WRX) who makes a return to the series. Marston may well keep his Class D lead as he is 38-points ahead of Ollis.
Mike Barltrop (Subaru Impreza) won the last two rounds in Class E (Pre 1996 Classic 4WD) and has now closed the gap to 12-points behind leader Hayden Shakespeare (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3). The rivalry is set to continue with both entered the event.
In the Historic Class F&G, the absence of Tim McIver (Ford Escort) may see Ally Mackay (Ford Escort) retake the Class lead with a narrow six-point gap to close.
Currently third equal in the ever-popular Class H (Subaru H6), Tom Milliken (Subaru H6) has a chance to take over the lead in the absence of both leader James Macdonald (Subaru H6) and second-placed Nick Marston (Subaru H6).
The event starts and finishes at Kohatu Park, 43km south of Nelson city. With approximately 80km of Special and 20km of Touring Stages in the Golden Downs Forest Estate, the first car gets underway at 8:30am finishing at 3:30pm.
Words and Images: Supplied