Rotorua's Sloan Cox and Australian champ Steve Glenney, driving Mitsubishi Lancer Evos, shared the spotlight as the big winners at the inaugural Teng Tools NZ International Rallycross at Baypark on Sunday night.
Cox drove his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo hillclimb special to a clear victory in the Open Class final while Glenney displayed pace and racecraft to advance from a second row start and win the 4WD Rally Car final.
Cox started from pole position in the six-lap final and stayed in front from the first corner.
He said the rallycross course - using the speedway infield, which became extremely rough, and the sealed pit area - was one of big contrasts.
"It was really like two different races," Cox said.
"We decided to specialise on the tarmac section and ran on wet weather tarmac tyres. The car worked really well on that section and I was able to be gentler on it through the roughest bits.
"I loved the weekend. The track was difficult and quite hard on the cars but it was a lot of fun."
Each race included a short-cut "Joker Lap" which drivers can use just once in each race.
"I decided to take the Joker at the first chance. That way I knew where everyone was and whether I needed to push any harder," said Cox.
He was driving the spaceframe Mitsubishi Evo originally built by Aucklander Andrew Hawkeswood for an attack on the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in the USA.
"The car probably has too much power for such a tight course. We tuned it for the Leadfoot Hillclimb and it had 550kW at the wheels. It would be better here with more low down torque."
In the final, Cox built up a handy lead and came home ahead of Australian Marcus Walkem (Lancer Evo9) with Tauranga's Phil Campbell (Lancer Evo9) taking third place. Campbell had a first turn delay while battling with Cox and had to fight back from fifth place.
Joining the rally cars in the Open Final was the new Polaris RZR Turbo of national offroad racing champion Ben Thomasen (Tauranga). Thomasen had posted the fastest four-lap time of the day in the semifinals.
But, following a nudge with a barrier in the Off Road Final, the Polaris was running with only rear-wheel-drive and then lost drive completely and he retired.
A strong drive from Tasmanian Steve Glenney clinched the 4WD Rally Car final.
Glenney started on the second row of the grid but quickly worked to second place and then hit the front with an early dive to the Joker Lap.
"It was good to come over and compete against the Kiwis - there are some really good drivers here," said Glenney.
"It's a great event and I enjoyed the racing. Hopefully the event can be built up for the future."
Glenney took a clear win over Campbell in the 4WD Rally Car final with Cox taking third in his Lancer Evo X and Tauranga's Wayne Pittams (Subaru Impreza).
The final for the faster Offroad classes proved a battle of attrition. Teenager Jack Hawkeswood (Auckland) rolled end-for-end in his Can-Am Turbo and race leader Thomasen retired with steering problems after nudging a barrier. Mt Maunganui's Dyson Delahunty (Polaris RZ-R 1000) drove a smart race to take the win, a full lap clear of Mike Small in another Polaris.
There was a strong drive from Hawke's Bay rally driver Ric Chalmers (Honda Civic) to take a clear win in the small capacity 2WD final.
Among the teething problems for inaugural event was the amount of maintenance needed for the sandy stadium infield section, which became extremely rutted. It meant the programme was delayed so the finals began at 6.45pm and the event finished at 8.30pm.