WRC

Rally New Zealand: Chris West event summary

TOP RESULT IMPROVES CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION FOR WEST Christchurch based driver Chris West has moved into third place in the Vantage Aluminium Joinery 2010 NZ Rally Championship after a very strong performance in Rally New Zealand. Westy finished...

TOP RESULT IMPROVES CHAMPIONSHIP POSITION FOR WEST

Christchurch based driver Chris West has moved into third place in the Vantage Aluminium Joinery 2010 NZ Rally Championship after a very strong performance in Rally New Zealand. Westy finished second of the championship contenders in the gruelling event which began on Friday and concluded on Sunday.

West ran strongly throughout the three day event, also a round of the World Rally Championship. He made a great start to the rally, finishing second on the first day. Despite battling problems on the second day he finished third and repeated that effort on the final day to secure second overall of the Group N NZ Rally Championship competitors in his Andrew Simms Mitsubishi EVO 9. West also finished fifteenth overall and second of the New Zealanders in the classy international field, featuring the world's best drivers.

Westy made a great start to the rally on the opening day on Friday which featured eight Special Stages in the Northland region followed by one around the Auckland Domain in the heart of the country's largest city. After a careful opening to the day he charged home strongly recording a win, four second fastest stage times and a third over the last six stages of the day.

The following day proved frustrating as West and co-driver Chris Cobham of Palmerston North lost the front diff early in the day, losing drive to the front wheels. However they pressed on, setting some very impressive times despite their issues. The days programme featured two Special Stages at the new Hampton Downs motor racing circuit where huge crowds gathered to watch the action and on the first of those visits Westy set the fastest time while he was in the top three in three more of the days eight stages.

With repairs made to the front diff for the final day West successfully negotiated the four stages based in the Raglan area on Sunday to seal second place overall in the Group N Class of the Vantage Aluminium Joinery 2010 NZ Rally Championship for the event.

"It was a very tough, demanding weekend and we made what we could of it. It was an important result for our championship. We had our difficulties but we are a lot better off than some others." Westy also found the transition to the Pirelli tyres required for this event to be a difficult one. "The tyres were a lot to adjust to. When you are trying to adapt in the heat of competition it puts you behind the eight-ball," he said as he looks forward to being back on familiar tyres for the remainder of the championship.

This result, in the most prestigious event of the year, has given a boost to West's championship campaign after it suffered a blow when he was forced to retire from the second day of the opening round in Otago after dominating the event to that point. West is now third in the championship, close behind his major rivals, while Cobham is third in the co-drivers point standings.

The next round of the championship is the Rally Of Whangarei, a round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, scheduled for the weekend of 3/4 July.

Support for Chris West in the Vantage Aluminium Joinery 2010 NZ Rally Championship comes from Andrew Simms Mitsubishi, the New Zealand Herald, Castrol, The Mad Butcher, Donnithorne Simms Mitsubishi and Adamson & Holland Ltd.

-source: Andrew Simms Mitsubishi Rally Team

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