After struggling to get to the event, it looked like it was all about to fall apart for Dave Holder by the second stage of Rally Wairarapa.
The signs had been there the day before, when co-driver Ben Hawkins was feeling too sick to do the ‘recce’ run with Dave to compile race notes.
Dave Holder hit a few bumps at Rally Wairarapa but still finished well - just missing third place by two seconds. Photo by Euan Cameron.
But there was no ignoring it on the second stage on Saturday morning, when Ben told Dave he was feeling ill, then vomited onto the floor.
“Fortunately, it didn’t smell too bad,” says Dave, who admits it was a slight distraction. “I was holding him up. By that stage I thought it was going to be a bit of a write off.”
Wheels nearly come off
But by the end of the service stop after the second stage Ben had recovered, and the focus was back on what turned out to be a competitive round.
However, a wobbling wheel literally almost fell off in stage six, when a waving bystander alerted them to it.
“We hadn’t felt it wobbling ourselves, so were very lucky. It could have been a major disaster,” says Dave.
“But by the time we had fixed it and completed the stage, we were almost five minutes late – and they’re pretty strict on times so we got a 50-second penalty.”
From third place at the start of the sixth stage, the penalty combined with safe driving to ensure Dave got home and earned important series points saw the pair ultimately finish the round fourth – only two seconds behind third-placed Stewart Taylor.
It earned him 16 points in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championships, taking him from fourth to third place in the series on 54 points, just behind Ben Hunt on 58 points, but well behind Richard Mason on 144 points.
Richard claimed a series of records at the rounds by claiming all nine stages and the series with two stages still remaining.
Midway through Dave’s first season in the national rally championship’s premiere 4WD series he realised he was facing a funding shortfall for his campaign and planned to forfeit the fourth round of the series at Wairarapa if he couldn’t attract more sponsors.
“We’ve had a couple of great supporters step up and get us through to Wairarapa,” says Dave, who thanks all his supporters for helping him continue his strong start in the top class.
This weekend Dave is hoping to pick up some more tips to help claim a podium in the series when he does a test run with mentor Hayden Paddon, who is just back from the WRC Poland Rally where he finished eighth.
“We’ll head out somewhere around Auckland and spend some time in the car,” says Dave.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a chance to get together all year, so it will be good to hear what he’s got to say about my driving and the car set-up.”
Meanwhile, fellow Tauranga driver Phil Campbell finished off the pace with a slow start and a forced rear diff change on the side of the road, which incurred a five-minute penalty.
Despite the slow time, which saw him earn only three points for the round – maintaining his seventh place in the series – Phil is excited about the improvement the new diff made to his speed.
What’s the diff?
“We couldn’t believe the difference it made to the car and we set good stage times,” says Phil, with a third and second in the final two stages – only 0.6 second behind Richard Mason.
“It felt good to know we were back up to where we should be.”
The series continues in Whitianga with Rally Coromandel on August 23.