Marston wins Rally of Canterbury as Mainland Rally Championship leader board gets a shake up

Christchurch’s Josh Marston and co-driver Andrew Graves have won the Lone Star Rally of Canterbury and have now taken the overall lead in the seven-round 2022 Mainland Rally Championship. The pairing won six of the seven Special Stages on Sunday in the Okuku and Ashley Forests, after last year’s winner, Robbie Stokes, retired with a mechanical problem just after winning the opening first stage.

“Absolutely stoked, it’s been a really good day,” commented Marston. “That was tough for Robbie (Stokes) to have issues at the start of the second stage. It feels like we were able to push on really well and the car has also been really good. I’ve got to thank the whole team, its been a brilliant effort.”

Held in cool and dry conditions with fast forest gravel roads, the third round of the Mainland Rally Series saw a shakeup of both the overall and Class categories. With Stoke’s early retirement and a non-start by NZ Rally Championship rival Jack Hawkeswood (Toyota Vitz AP4), it was Matt Summerfield/Nicole Summerfield (Subaru Impreza) that finished second ahead of David Quantock/Emma Quantock (Skoda AP4). Fourth was Deane Buist/Karl Celeste (Ford Fiesta) with John Giltrap/Sarah Faulkner (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) in fifth.

“It’s good to get to the end,” said Summerfield. “It’s been an enjoyable day with no major dramas, so it’s been good to get some seat time in and at home as well.”

Heading into the rally, overall series leader was Ray Casey (Subaru Impreza Sti) who, for most of the rally set third fastest stage times behind Marston and Summerfiled before dropping to finish seventh overall.

“The day has been real good, apart from a flat tyre,” said Casey. “We were third overall then dropped down to ninth then we have made up a few places so to finish in the top ten is pretty cool.”

Autotech Services, RDL Performance and Brita Safety have put up cash prizes for each Class winner at the end of the Mainland Rally Championship season. $500, $250 and $100 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively for each class as well as trophies for all classes and overall, for both driver and co- driver. Vehicles are divided up into seven different classes according to engine size, year of manufacturer and two or four-wheel drive.

Continuing to lead Class A (2WD 0-1300cc) is Jay Ritchie (Toyota Starlet) from Pat Norris (Toyota Vitz) and Chris Herdman (Toyota Starlet). David Birkett (Toyota Levin) was first home in Class B (2WD 1301-1600cc) reducing William Hawes’ (Toyota Corolla) lead to four-points with Kerry Sloan(Toyota Starlet) in third.

Deane Buist (Ford Fiesta) takes over the lead in Class C (2WD 1601cc and over) ahead of Peter Bowden (Ford Escort) and Marcus van Klink who missed the round. Marston also takes over the lead in Class D (4WD 1601cc and over) from Casey with John Giltrap (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) moving into third ahead of Sean Haggarty (Subaru Impreza).

Nigel Ede (Subaru Legacy) takes over the lead in (Pre 1996 Classic 4WD) from Shane McKenzie (Mitsubishi VR4) and Mike Baltrop (Subaru Impreza).

Regan Ross (Ford Escort) was first home in the Classic Class F & G. With Jeff Judd switching from a Ford Escort to a Subaru H6, Tim McIver (Ford Escort) has moved into the lead of the class from Ally MacKay (Ford Escort Mk1). Judd now drops to third equal with David Owen (Ford Escort).

Nick Marston’s (Subaru H6) early retirement from the event sees Amy Keighly (Subaru H6) take over the lead in Class H6 from Tom Mililiken (Subaru H6).

Drivers and teams now have a quick turn around with the fourth round, the Rally of South Canterbury, taking place in less than a fortnight on Saturday 18 June.