A seventh-place drive at the Rally of Coromandel on Saturday has kept Tauranga driver Ben Thomasen (Subaru Impreza) in the running for two New Zealand titles with one round remaining.
While Thomasen and co-driver Gavin Haycock lost nearly a minute stuck off the road in the sixth stage, they battled throughout the eight-stage event with Auckland's Matt Adams (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) for the lead in the Gull Rally Challenge category.
At the finish Adams held an advantage of 13.7s, taking sixth overall and the category win.
The two rivals are now tied for the Rally Challenge series lead ahead of the final round on Waitomo roads on October 19.
Thomasen is also in the hunt for the NZ Rally Championship rookie title. He's currently second in the standings and only two points behind Christchurch driver Daph O'Rourke (Toyota Corolla) in the rookie standings.
Overall it was a rally of mixed fortunes for the Tauranga crews on the Coromandel roads.
The biggest disappointment befell former Coromandel Rally winner Phil Campbell who failed to start after his Ford Fiesta AP4 suffered engine problems before the rally began.
Tauranga's Ben Quinn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo5) had a successful run climbing from 32nd seeding position to finish 15th overall.
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Brake problems early in the rally slowed the Ford Escort of Tauranga's Wayne Pittams and he finished 26th. Pittams is third in the two-wheel-drive championship going into the final round.
Tauranga's Jordan Grant was the last seeded driver in the 57-strong field while making his rally debut. He drove his Suzuki Swift to 34th place among the 41 finishers.
Papamoa's Phil Macquarie was an early retirement when his Subaru Impreza lost all of its brake fluid.
The Coromandel event was won by Aucklander Ben Hunt (Subaru WRX STI) who stretched his winning season to five wins from five starts and has comfortably secured his second national title with a round to spare.