Two drivers were airlifted to hospital after the first of two crashes at the Targa New Zealand tarmac motor rally yesterday.

Auckland driver Kim McLeod and co-driver Ben Quin were taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital by the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter with moderate injuries after their RX7 failed to take a bend on Crownthorpe Settlement Rd just before 9.30am.

Hastings fire service senior station officer Glenn Drew said the race was halted after the car failed to take a corner and "travelled a fair way off the road".

It rolled but came to rest on its wheels on the far side of a ditch, with Mr Quin able to exit the vehicle himself.


"We set up our gear to extricate [the driver] but we didn't have to use the gear, with assistance he was able to get out of the vehicle and on to a stretcher," he said.

Mr Martin said the driver regained consciousness before his trip to hospital.

A Targa media spokesman said the pair were experienced Targa competitors. They were running fifth overall in the two-day Targa Regional Rally when the accident occurred.

A second accident in the same stage did not injure driver Mark Hellier or co-driver Glenn Edley from Auckland but Mr Hellier's Porsche 911 was badly damaged.

Geoff Laurent from Cambridge said he was "thoroughly" enjoying Hawke's Bay in his turbocharged Subaru WRX, if a little torn.

"The scenery is so beautiful but I have to keep my eye on the road as well," he said.

With speeds up to 200km/h for the competitive class it is far from a jaunt in the country.

Auckland's Alasdair Patrick said it was "a bit of both" from his open-top Aston Martin.

In an orange Ford Mustang, rally goodwill ambassador Ray Williams took Napier MP Stuart Nash and Tukituki MP Craig Foss for a ride.

When not ferrying parliamentarians Mr Williams, the holder of the New Zealand road car land speed record of 317km/h, handed out sweets to children.

"I'm a Jaffa handing out Jaffas in a Jaffa car," he said.

Event director Peter Martin said it was "an excuse for people interested in cars to socialise".