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Clendon: Gearbox breakdown costly


The roads of South Canterbury again put a big dent in Jackson Clendon’s national rally championship aspirations.

For the second consecutive year, the promising Masterton driver has failed to finish Rally South Canterbury, and again it could be terminal for his chances of claiming a first national championship.

This time, though, it wasn’t driver error as in 2022 when he rolled his Ford Fiesta Rally4 in only its second competitive outing, but a smoking gearbox that ended his and co-driver Tania Cresswell’s rally about 12km into the first stage of the one-day event. 

“There’s a filler bung [where you’d fill the oil], and that has somehow blown off from the top of the gearbox, and obviously, oil has come out and that caused a load of smoke and quite a bad smell for a while,” Clendon said.

“We’d had an issue of gear oil smell, so we soldiered on for a little bit, and it just got worse to the point where it looked like we were on fire. 

“When I was shifting gears, it wasn’t doing it quite right, so we had to stop and make sure there wasn’t a fire, but when we discovered what was wrong, there was no way we could continue.”

Clendon has sent the damaged gearbox to Hayden Paddon’s workshop in Cromwell to assess the damage but fears the gearbox could be beyond repair. A replacement would cost about $15,000.

In his favour, though, is that the next round of the championship  –  the Daybreaker Rally in Manawatu – is three months away.

Clendon led the 2WD and FIA Class 2 championships going into South Canterbury and has now slipped to second behind Dylan Thomson in both classes.

With the championships reduced to five rounds because of the cancellation of the Coromandel Rally due to damage from Cyclone Gabrielle, every round counts, whereas in a six-round series, the worst round is dropped. 

“If you do get a zero, it really stuffs up your championship, but mathematically we’re in with a chance.  

“If we get to the next rally and put in a good performance, there’s more pressure on him [Thomson] having to finish, and it’s easier for us to go out and try and win than it is for him to cruise to the finish.”

Clendon trails Thomson by 17 points in the 2WD and 23 points in FIA Category 2 with two rounds left to run.   



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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