It was a sunbaked hillside that took its toll on machines as Whanganui's defending 4x4 National Trial champion Hamish Auret and co-driver Paul Barnes finished fifth during the second round of the series near Huntly on Sunday.
Temperatures had been soaring for weeks on the Tahuna Rd course in Ohinewai – completely opposite conditions to last season where the drivers faced rain and excess mud as they tackled the 30 hazards.
Final placings for the Bridgestone Huntly National 4x4 Trial are not yet confirmed as the national body was reviewing a protest in C Class.
However, the Top 5 for the D-Class trucks are known, with two-time series runnerup Scott Biggs making a good comeback from Awakeri to win the round for his hosting Counties 4 Wheelers club.
Manukau's Phil Walton was runnerup for the second round in a row, moving to the head of the overall standings, with Hamilton's Russell Luders in third and Hawke's Bay's Greg McDell coming fourth.
Dargaville's Aaron Guest did not feature among the top drivers after winning the Awakeri round.
"The top sort of results are a scramble again," said Auret, who along with Walton are the only drivers to feature in both round's Top 5.
Ten drivers were unable to complete the 30 hazards due to damage such as broken gears.
"It was a really tough day at the office," said Auret.
"Really rock hard, hot, gears breaking down."
Auret and Barnes had a couple of rolls in their morning session, which led to transmission problems that had to be fixed during the lunch break.
Then in the afternoon they snapped an axle, necessitating more repairs, which was followed by a broken diff, which had to be pulled out and replaced during another frantic session in the pits.
"We were happy to be fifth, to be fair, with everything that happened," said Auret.
"Biggs took it out, on a course that he pegged, but he pegged a course that we liked."
Whanganui's Grant and Renee Harrison competed in C Class, but their final placing is not known due to the protest involving other drivers.
Auret will enjoy his Christmas break, while fine tuning their 7-litre Chev-powered truck and straightening out the dents.
The next round of the national series is January 20, hosted by the Hawke's Bay 4WD Club.