Surprise Canterbury Rally win for Stokes after drama hits Marston

Robbie Stokes and co-driver Dave Neill (Ford Escort MkII) have won the 2023 Lone Star Canterbury Rally in association with Joe’s Garage after drama hit early leader Josh Marston/Andrew Graves (Holden Barina AP4). After leading with relative ease through the first five Special Stages, Marston punctured on SS6 losing time and dropping down to ninth overall, handing the lead to Stokes who took advantage of the opportunity to record his second consecutive win in the 2023 Mainland Rally Championship (MRC).

“That was unexpected,” commented Stokes. “A real shame for Josh (Marston) as he was quick all day. You never want to win like that, but we will take it. We’ve had a lot of fun today so winning is also a bonus for the series.”

“It was driver error in that I cut a corner,” said Marston who ended up fifth overall. “I had a ‘cut’ in my (pace) notes but didn’t note or see a rock. I put the wheel in there and it just exploded the rim and the tyre went everywhere. By the time I pulled over it had wrapped all the steel around the hub so had to get the tool kit out and cut it all out so lost a lot of time.

“Otherwise, it’s been a great day, really enjoyable and the car has gone well.”

Stokes had elected to compete in an older Ford Escort, leaving his NZ Rally Championship competing Ford Fiesta AP4 in the garage. It was a two-wheel-drive podium with second home a delighted Dylan Thomson/Richard Fairhall (Ford Fiesta ST150 2.3) and Marcus van Klink/Toby Marsh (Mazda RX7) in third.

“It’s been eventful to say the least,” said Thomson. “Poor Richard (co-driver) lost his lunch in SS5 so the last three stages we have been driving blind. Awesome to be here. We had a big push in the last stage so hopefully that got us a top result.”

As well as fighting for overall honours in the six-round Mainland Rally Championship, all through the 50-car field there was also competition for seven separate Classes.

Stokes won Class C (2WD 1601c and over) from Thomson and McCrae Soper/Dave Christie (BMW 328i).

In Class D (4WD) Sean Haggarty/Bella Haggarty (Subaru WRX) won from Marston/Graves and Caleb MacDonald/Kevin Laird (Misubishi Lancer Evo 6).

“A fantastic day,” said Haggarty. “Nothing wrong with the car and we have had a lot of fun and the roads have been fabulous.”

Mike Barltrop/Vahur Ots (Subaru Impreza) won Class E (Pre 1996 Classic 4WD) from Hayden Shakespeare/Chris Sunman (Mitsubishi Lance Evo 3).

Van Klink, who had to switch from his RX8 back to his older RX7 for the event, and Jeff Judd/Grant Marra (Ford Escort RS1800) had a day-long battle in the Historic Class F&G until Judd had an off-road excursion within the last kilometer of the event. Retiring out of the rally, this handed second place to Ally Mackay/Mikko Johnston (Ford Escort Mk1) ahead of Tim McIver/James McIver (Ford Escort).

“It’s gone very well,” said Klink. “It’s (RX7) been a bit different to get into after three and a half years. The roads have been pretty dusty but overall, very good.”

In the competitive Class H, it was James Macdonald/Josh Edwards (Subaru H6) with a narrow win over Nick Marston/Peter Calvert (Subaru H6) and Amy Keighley/Ben Trevelyan (Subaru Impreza H6).

Kerry Sloan/Henry Raymond (Toyota Starlet won Class A (2WD 0-1300cc) while David Birkett/Jack Birkett (Toyota Levin) won Class B (2WD 1301-1600cc) from Harri Silcock/Mark Greenwood (Toyota Starlet).

RDL Performance, Brita Safety, Palmside NZ and Winmax Brakes have put up cash prizes for each Class winner at the end of the Mainland Rally Championship season. $500, $250 and $100 for first, second and third respectively for each class as well as trophies for all classes and overall for both driver and co- driver.

Stokes has increased his overall MRC lead to 14-points ahead of van Klink and Marston who are tied on second. Drivers and teams now prepare for the third round which takes place as part of Rally South Canterbury (17 June), which also doubles as the third round of the 2023 NZ Rally Championship.

Overall Points 2023 Mainland Rally Championship after 2/6 rounds (Top 15)
1/ Robbie Stokes 60
2= Marcus van Klink 46
2= Josh Marston 46
4/ Dylan Thomson 44
5/ Caleb MacDonald 34
6/ James Macdonald 28
7= Tim McIver 26
7= Ally Mackay 26
7= David Birkett 26
10/ Nick Marston 24
11/ Brian Green 23
12/ Deane Buist 22
13/ Jeff Judd 19
14/ David Owen 18
15= Kerry Sloan 14
15= Paul Cross 14

2023 Lone Star Canterbury Rally in association with Joe’s Garage
(Pos, Driver/Co-driver, Car, Class)
1/ Robbie Stokes/Dave Neill, Ford Escort MkII, C
2/ Dylan Thomson/Richard Fairhall, Ford Fiesta ST150 2.3, C
3/ Marcus van Klink/Toby Marsh, Mazda RX7, G
4/ Sean Haggarty/Bella Haggarty, Subaru Impreza WRX, D
5/ Josh Marston/Andrew Graves, Holden Barina AP4, D
6/ Caleb MacDonald/Kevin Laird, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6, D
7/ James MacDonald/Josh Edwards, Subaru H6, H
8/ Sheldon Bell/Jacson Edie, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 RS, D
9/ Ally Mackay/Mikko Johnston, Ford Escort Mk1, G
10/ Nick Marston/Peter Calvert, Subaru Impreza H6. H
11/ David Birkett/Jack Birkett, Toyota Levin, B
12/ McCrae Sloper/Dave Christie, BMW 328i, C
13/ Tim McIver/James McIver, Ford Escort, G
14/ Jacob Bennett/Lily Sadler, Subaru Impreza, D
15/ Harri Silcock/Mark Greenwood, Toyota Starlet B
16/ Shane Mckenzie/Mike Theyers, Mitsubishi VR4, D
17/ Kerry Sloan/Henry Raymond, Toyota Starlet, A
18/ Graham Ferguson/Ross Moody, Ford Escort RS1800, G
19/ Phil Collins/Tracy Spark, Audi S3, D
20/ Bryan van Eck/Jim Gleeson, Toyota Altezza, C
21/ David Owen/Mitzielene Machida, Ford Escort RS, G
22/ Daph O’Rourke/Matt Summerfield, Ford Fiesta R2, B
23/ Mike Barltrop/Vahur Ots, Subaru Impreza, E
24/ Amy Keighley/Ben Trevelyan, Subaru Impreza H6, H
25/ Brayden Sim/Caleb Sim, BMW 316i, C
26/ Peter Farrell/Cole Robinson, Mazda RX7, C
27/ Tom Milliken/Chris Cunningham, Subaru Impreza H6, H
28/ Brian Green/Brianna Little, Ford Escort Mk2, F
29/ Hayden Shakespeare/Chris Sunman, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3, E
30/ Alastair McLean/Gerry McLean, Ford Fiesta, C
31/ William Hawes/Jason Dwyer, Toyota GT86, C
32/ Dave Ollis/Gemma Thomas, Subaru Impreza WRX Sti, D
33/ Phil McManus/John Stewart, BMW 318ti, C
34/ Andrew Keighley/Josh Keighley, Ford Escort BDA, B
35/ Murray Christofferson/Jonothan Taylor, Toyota Levin, B
36/ Mike Matheson/Gordon Legge, Toyota Vitz, A
37/ Andrew Whyte/Graham McRae, Mitsubishi Mirage, B
38/ Pat Norris/Geoff Parr, Toyota Yaris, A
39/ Craig Greene/Reuben Greene, Peugeot 306 S16, C
40/ Rex Ford/Gary Wilkinson, Datsun 180B, F
dnf Deane Buist/James Bracefield, Toyota Corolla AE86, C
dnf Jeff Judd/Grant Marra, Ford Escort RS1800, G
dnf Ray Wilson/Samantha Gray, Subaru Impreza Sti, D
dnf Jack Stokes/Sarah Faulkner, Ford Fiesta R2, B
dnf Tim McDonald/Anya McDonald, Toyota Corolla DX, B
dnf Jared Parker/Lachlan Thomson, Toyota Corolla, B
dnf Brendon Wadsworth/Sean Sands, Toyota Starlet, B

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