The long journey to the Bay of Islands proved a successful one for Tauranga rally driver Ben Thomasen on Saturday.
Thomasen was having his first rally outing in his recently acquired Subaru Impreza STI at the Paihia-based Rally of the Far North and climbed from 17th seeding to finish seventh.
The result extends a perfect finishing record in five rallies this year - the first four in a Toyota Starlet - and shows the promise being shown by the former motocross rider.
"I didn't know where we were running all day. I decided before hand I didn't want anyone to tell us about our position, I just wanted to drive the car and make sure we got to the finish," said Thomasen.
It proved an effective strategy on a day of high attrition on the Northland roads.
"They were dropping like flies and I was stoked to finish," said Thomasen.
Thomasen and co-driver Rachel Pittams worked their way into the top-10 early in the event and ended up seventh in spite of completing the rally with a gearbox problem.
"We started to lose fifth gear about halfway through.
"I did two stages holding it in fifth gear and driving with one hand at 180km/h but after that I didn't use fifth at all.
"That cost us a bit of time because the last two stages were quite fast."
Thomsen, who only recently underwent another operation on his back as part of his recovery from a major motocross accident 22 months ago, said the rally was very tough.
"It was a long day on demanding roads and the weather made it very slippery in the morning.
"I was stoked to come away with a good result and without a scratch on the car because there was carnage from start to finish.
"I really loved driving the four wheel drive car and I know we can go a bit quicker but I really wanted to make sure we got to the finish."
While ignoring the results Thomasen was unknowingly in a close battle with the Tauranga crew of Phil Campbell and Venita Fabbro (Mitsubishi Mirage V6).
After stage six they were seventh and eighth respectively with Thomsen ahead by 13secs, while Campbell had a commanding lead in Class C (over 1600cc two-wheel drive) and was also the leading two-wheel drive competitor.
But an exhaust manifold problem ended Campbell's run before he could start the seventh of the eight stages.
The third Tauranga crew of Andrew Shrimpton and Trevor Corbin (Ford Escort) moved up from 44th seeding to finish 23rd.
The Far North event was won by Whangarei's Ben Jagger (Subaru Impreza) by a 1m 21s margin over Taranaki's Neil Marshall (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo).
Thomasen's seventh placing also lifted him to seventh overall in the Top Half Rally Series which finished at the Far North event.
Lucky LukeFor seven-year-old Tauranga motocross racer Luke McClymont, the New Zealand Mini Motocross Champs at Huntly next month have already taken on some extra significance.
The Huntly Motorcycle Club and Dirt Rider Downunder magazine offered early entries in the four championship classes a chance to be looked after as a "factory" rider at the November 13-14 nationals.
The Factory Rider prize package includes new Fox riding gear, a set of new Bridgestone tyres and a new number graphics set.
As well McClymont and the other three winners will pit with the DRD team for the race weekend and be treated like factory riders.
At the Huntly Honda sponsored NZ Mini Motocross Champs, McClymont will be racing in the 6-8 Years 50cc category with his KTM 50 SX.
Before the Mini Nationals he races at the North Island Mini Champs at Taupo on October 23, a track he has performed well on this season winning the most recent round of the Taupo winter series and finishing runner-up for the season.
Series at Waihi BeachA 12-round points series will be raced at the scenic Waihi Beach dirt track club this summer.
The racing season begins at the oval track in a former quarry overlooking Waihi Beach on Saturday, November 20 following a practice day on November 13.
The Waihi club runs Saturday race meetings, getting under way from 11.30am and the venue is at 597 Beach Rd, Waihi Beach.
2010-11 Waihi Beach Dirt Track Club calendar:
Nov 6 Sign up day; Nov 13 Practice day; Nov 20 round 1; Dec 4 round 2; Dec 18 round 3; Jan 15 round 4; Jan 29 round 5; Feb 5 round 6; Feb 19 round 7; Mar 5 round 8; Mar 19 round 9; Apr 9 round 10; April 30 round 11; May 7 Demo Derby and Fun Day; May 14 rain date.
New gravel hillclimbMotorsport BOP is running a gravel hillclimb at a new venue in Ohauiti on Sunday.
The 2.5km course starts at the junction of McPhails Rd and Ohauiti Rd and is a section of road used many years ago as part of special stages in Bay Rally and Motogard Rally events.
Access to the start and pit area is via Oropi along McPhails Rd.
Practice runs are expected to start about 10am and three official timed runs will decide the result.