Hawke's Bay's Terry May is able to laugh about an accident which ended his and son Frank's hopes of finishing last year's Targa Hawke's Bay Rally now.

But it's fair to say he wasn't laughing about it at the time.

"Yes it was somewhat embarrassing ... we were less than 4km from home on Middle Road," Havelock North commercial property developer May recalled.

"We almost wrote the car off after taking a corner too hot. We went over a bank, through a farm fence and ended up 150 metres from the corner.

Advertisement

"Fortunately all the safety equipment did its job and we weren't hurt. Frank was able to run down the road with the warning triangle and I was left to pay the farmer for the damage as well as the obligatory fine which goes to the Race4Life Trust," May explained.

"Local knowledge can be dangerous. So while it would be good to win our class again and finish among the top five in the two wheel drive category finishing the event is the first priority this weekend," May said as he pondered the three-day Targa which begins in Rotorua today and ends in Havelock North on Sunday.

The Mays are among three Hawke's Bay crews in the 49-crew competitive section and another 29 crews, including five from the Bay will tackle the touring section. For May snr, 54, it will be his 16th Targa and all but one of those have been in the competitive section.

Sixteen-year-old Lindisfarne College Year 12 student Frank, who is about to go for his restricted driver's licence, will be competing in the competitive section for the third time as a co-driver and he has also done one Targa in the touring section with his father. They will again race the 2002 BMW 330ci they raced last year.

May has won Class 5 on a couple of occasions. This class caters for cars with engines between 2 and 3.4 litres.

"There are usually only four or five cars in each class and I think this time there might only be one car with the same pace as us. The main thing for us is to have some quality father-son time and a bit of fun. There are a lot of friends who we don't catch up with until Targa time and the camaraderie is always pretty special."

May knows the time will come when Frank will want the driving role but May is the first to admit he will be reluctant to swap roles. A former karter, Frank, is a BMW circuit racer but rowing is his main sport.

He was a member of the Lindisfarne College under-17 eight crew which competed at the Lake Karapiro-hosted Maadi Cup regatta in March. The father-son pair will also tackle a one-day Targa Rally event in August and May will have to find another co-driver for the main Targa Rally New Zealand event in October as Frank will be busy preparing for NCEA exams then.

While Frank intends to return to school next year he hopes to study engineering at Canterbury University from 2021. This will also enable him to continue with his rowing.

Another of the Hawke's Bay competitive crews, hubby and wife Stuart and Jane Richmond, will be competing in the Targa for the first time. They will race a 1972 Ford Escort.

The third Hawke's Bay competitive crew consists of Maraekakaho dairy farmer Ivan Knauf and Tutira farmer Trevor Corbin who will again race a 2008 Subaru Impreza.

Another Hawke's Bay father-and-son crew, Rhod and Alisdair Murray, will have an extra incentive to at least complete the touring section in their 2001 Audi S3. Rhod's daughter Cara and son-in-law Steven Croad will race a 2016 Ford Focus RS in the touring section and Alisdair, in particular, is eager for bragging rights according to Rhod.

Retired Hastings GP Rhod, 72, is one of the oldest competitors in the touring section. He will drive the afternoon stages and his son will drive the morning stages.

Other Hawke's Bay crews in the touring section of the rally will be Nathan Apatu and Charles Whyte in a 1969 Porsche 911T, Hugh Franklin and David Goodwin in a 2009 Ferrari Scuderia and Robert May and Robert Paterson in a 1996 BMWM3.