West winds up fifth after series of setbacks

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014
chris west
SUPPLIED/ Geoff Ridder

DISAPPOINTING: Timaru's Chris West finds the opening round of the New Zealand Rally Championships in Whangarei somewhat frustrating.

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Timaru's Chris West finished a frustrating fifth in the New Zealand Rally Championships opening round in Whangarei.

West had no luck fighting temperature problems that had him down to three then two cylinders and then a broken axle topped off his weekend.

When West was going well he won a stage and would have likely been second after day one had he not broken the axle.

The Kiwi contingent in the international field were plagued by attrition with only 13 of the original 26 finishing.

Surviving their own catalogue of problems Richard and Sara Mason were first home in their Subaru STi, finishing comfortably ahead of brother and sister team Matt and Nicole Summerfield in an earlier model Subaru.

Rookie Lance Williams from Te Aroha and co-driver Raymond Bennett finished third in their Subaru.

Mason collected 42 points for his efforts ahead of Matt Summerfield on 26, with Lance Williams on 20.

West's total was a disappointing 12.

The usually upbeat Timaruvian said it was somewhat demoralising as everyone had worked hard but it wasn't their weekend in the Mitsubishi.

"Our split times to start were very encouraging. The broken axle is part of the sport, but the other issues hurt us.

West said the team changed everything on the car apart from the engine and wiring.

"We tried hard, it just wasn't our weekend."

West said he was looking forward to Otago and would come out fighting.

India's Gaurav Gill and Australian based co-driver Glenn Macneall clean swept yesterday's six special stages to take the overall International Rally of Whangarei title.

Gill snatched victory from overnight leader and team-mate Jan Kopecky in what was also the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Of the nine that started the international category event eight finished, with female driver Rina Ito leaving the road on the final test in her Honda Civic.

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- The Timaru Herald

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