Comeback veterans keen to make mark
After more than a decade out of rallying, Timaru's Darren Galbraith and James Bracefield are showing no signs of slowing down.
The pair look set to make their return season a winning one and are leading their category of the national championships, the 4WD Rally Challenge.
Galbraith has shown how handy he is as a driver with some decent machinery under him. He and co-driver James Bracefield have had the Mitsubishi Evo 5, formerly owned by Deborah Kibble, flying.
In round one in Otago, the pair came away with the class win and were 11th overall in New Zealand Rally Championship against the big guns, the highlight being fourth-equal fastest time in the last special stage.
In Canterbury, Galbraith had his first night-time drive.
After two night stages they were sixth overall, despite an off-road excursion in the frozen and slippery conditions. They held their place until electrical problems reduced the car to two cylinders but still managed to take the class win by 17sec.
Last weekend in Wairarapa they climbed to fifth overall until a steering component failed in a high-speed right-hand corner, causing the car to veer left off the road and up a bank, taking out 15 metres of fence. Fortunately, they escaped with only minor panel damage to the car and managed to rejoin for stage eight, in which they were fastest in their class, taking the bonus five championship points on offer.
That mishap cut Galbraith's lead in the championship to 22 points over Jeff Judd.
Bracefield said that with 30 points on offer each round, they were attempting to secure enough funds to compete at the next round in the Coromandel in next month - which they had initially decided to miss.
"We hope to secure the championship there rather than relying on the intended last round at Palmerston North in September."
He said their return to the sport after 12 years was because they managed to get some funds together. "Thanks to our sponsors really, they have been great. We are having fun and Darren is showing his class in a good car against the big boys."
The only thing making life a bit difficult was commitment to pace notes, because of the class rules not allowing recce.
"It's an initiative to keep costs down and make the class affordable with less time off work but it makes life tough at times."
- The Timaru Herald