No mistakes as Cox smashes record

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 23 Sep 2017 | Motorsport | Rally
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Rotorua's Sloan Cox on his way to breaking the Ashley Forest Rallysprint record and achieiving the overall win in his hillclimb special Mitsubishi Evo 8. PHOTO: GEOFF RIDDER

Mechanical issues robbed him last year but Sloan Cox made no mistake this time round as he set a course record on his way to top honours at last weekend's Ashley Forest Rallysprint.

Cox made history last year when he broke Kim Austin's 4WD course record of 56.57sec, with a time of 55.23sec, yet outright victory eluded him when the driveshaft in his hillclimb special Mitsubishi Evo 8 broke on the start line in the final run. At this year's event, Cox was able to set a record of 54.96sec in the top-four run-off.

He was competing against Mike Tall (Christchurch), Richard Baddock (Kaiapoi) and fellow New Zealand Rally Championship driver Matt Summerfield (Rangiora). Baddock crashed his Subaru Impreza WRX on this run, while Tall clocked a time of 58sec in his 4WD Mitsubishi Mirage. Summerfield then got himself back into the 57-second bracket, setting the scene for a top-two final run with Cox for the second consecutive year.

As fastest qualifier, Cox elected to run second, leaving Summerfield to set his quickest time for the weekend, 56.51sec, in his Mitsubishi Mirage. Cox put in a better run on the 1.7km course to record a time of 55.13sec and win the event.

Cox said the weekend was ‘‘amazing''.

‘‘I knew from last year that there was still more left in the car and it was exciting to be able to beat my own record again this year. It is also the best feeling to make it through the final run without any issues and secure the overall event win and even more special to have sponsors at the event with us to share in the win.''

The 2WD class run-off involved Ari Pettigrew (Rangiora), Steve Pabst (Kaiapoi) and Chris Hey (Mosgiel) as the top three.

Hey clinched the 2017 title and, in doing so, broke a long-standing class record. His Toyota MR220, which weighs 890kg and produces 350kW, shaved 0.30sec off the 29-year- old 2WD record, finishing in 1min 02.15sec.

Up-and-coming youngster Pettigrew was second in his BMW 318ti, while Pabst lost the gears in his Holden Commodore.