Rally drivers lose notes, then rhythm

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014

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Otorohanga's Trevor De Malmanche and his co-driver Daniel Rich are bruised and sore after a fiery crash in the opening stage of Saturday's Taranaki Tarmac Rally.

Their Subaru WRX hit a bank then rolled several times before bursting into flames near Ratapiko. They had to punch out a window to escape, then flag down another competitor to use their fire extinguisher.

The crash was the biggest incident in the rally, held mostly in torrential rain.

Yesterday De Malmanche said he had a good rhythm going over the first half of the first special stage, but it all went bad when co-driver Rich dropped his pace notes.

"By the time he'd picked them up we had missed the note telling us about a hard turn on the other side of a crest over a hill," De Malmanche said.

"So we spun, hit a bank and rolled. Then the car slid over the other side of the road and rolled down a bank onto a farm track. The crash had obviously smashed all the fuel-flow valves because the car then started burning."

While both men were feeling sore, the only real injury was a cut to Rich's face when he was hit by De Malmanche's helmet during the roll.

"But that's OK, because I probably should have punched him anyway for dropping the pace notes," joked the driver.

The Subaru, which was badly damaged, was competing in its first rally after being rebuilt following a previous rollover. De Malmanche said he would rebuild the car and return for the 2015 Taranaki rally. "I was obviously going too fast. I need to remember that you don't win rallies on the first special stage."

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