West leads Whangarei Rally

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Former New Zealand champion Chris West has hit his straps in the Nac Insurance Hella Lights Rally of Whangarei and holds both the overall lead and the led in the New Zealand Championship section of the event.

The Whangarei rally is a round of both the Vantage Aluminium Joinery NZ series and the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship.

After four special stages, West was 19.5 seconds ahead of Geraldine driver Hayden Paddon (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) in the NZ series section.

Reigning Asia-Pacific champion Cody Croker is fourth overall, behind West, Paddon and a third Lancer Evo 9 driver, Brett Martin of Masterton.

The three New Zealander are in the podium positions in both the NZ and Asia-Pacific sections.

Crocker (Subaru Impreza WRX STi), running first car on the road, is being handicapped by having to sweep the special stag surfaces clear of loose gravel.

The big news of this morning was national series points leader Richard Mason’s rollover in SS2. He had been running fourth. His BNT Subaru was too badly damaged to continue and he withdrew at the end of the stage.

Kiwi 2 champion and points contender Dave Strong (Honda Civic Type-R) is also out of the event after stopping in a stage.

That leaves points leader Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz Type-R) firmly in control.

NZ championship drivers Dean Sumner (Evo 9) and Callum McInnes (WRX) are fifth and sixth overall.

Emma Gilmour (WRX) is ninth,