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Motorcyclist delays Targa Rally stages

An errant motorcyclist threatened to derail the last two legs of the Targa Rally, which finished in Masterton on Saturday.

The first four or five cars had left on the penultimate stage from Longbush to Hinakura Road when the motorbike drove through the stop controls and into the stage.

Martinborough driver John Thomson said that almost forced organisers to cancel the last two stages.

“One of the competitors, who was a trained marshall, went through, not at pace after the first four or five cars had gone through, and he actually managed to catch up with the guy, and they were going to grab him, but he hared off into one of the properties,” Thomson said

“That was a shame because it ended up with a bit of a gap from the front of the field and the back, but we were able to regather for the Ponatahi stage, and it just meant things got a little bit delayed.”

The delay followed a similar incident earlier in the five-day rally when someone drove out of his property into the stage, forcing its cancellation.

Despite the hiccups, Thomson was thrilled with how the tar seal rally went, in particular his and co-driver, daughter Sarah’s 14th overall placing and third in class in their 2008 BMW 135. The pair also won the trophy for the leading parent and child.

“We exceeded our expectations because the field was a bit more competitive, and there were nine Australian cars come over, so it was a top-heavy field,” he said.

“That class is tough because that’s modern two-wheel drive, and that’s against the big boys, so we were stoked with that.

“Sarah did an amazing job on notes, and it’s a huge task to navigate for that long.”

Thomson said the BMW ran superbly apart from losing an exhaust pipe bolt and a tyre delaminating on the two special stages east of Pahiatua on Saturday, which cost them about 90 seconds.

He added there was plenty of local support, saying that it was cool driving through Martinborough and seeing the people waving and yahooing.

Christchurch’s Marcus van Klink and co-driver Matt Richards took overall honours after the five days, with Jason Gill and Brianna Little in a VW Polo second and Mike Tubbs and Matt Bailey in a BMW M2 in third place.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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