Rally cars brought for checks a delight for petrolheads

Otago Polytech automotive student Harold Thompson, of Hastings, checks out Auckland rally car...
Otago Polytech automotive student Harold Thompson, of Hastings, checks out Auckland rally car driver Chris Alexander’s 1981 Toyota Corolla which has had a Mitsubishi 4G603 engine transplanted into it. PHOTOS: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A roll of toilet paper in the glove compartment is optional.

But a reliable engine, a heavy accelerator pedal, safe brakes, good seat harnesses, a roll-cage and some window wipers are essential in a rally car.

It was the role of Otago Polytechnic level 3 automotive student Harold Thompson (19) and his fellow students yesterday, to help make sure all the cars competing in this weekend’s Otago Rally were within specification and had all the necessary safety equipment.

Harold said hearing the cacophony of the competing cars and getting to look under their hoods was spine-tingling for any petrolhead.

"Most of the engines have been highly modified.

"It’s amazing the lengths that the drivers and mechanics will go to, to make their cars go faster. Very expensive.

"And given how powerful they are, if I drove one, I’d have to be flipping careful. Otherwise I’d end up down a bank or in the bushes."

He said he was in his element yesterday because he had always had a passion for rally cars.

"That’s why I decided to study to become a mechanic."

Enjoying the ceremonial start to the Otago Rally in the Octagon, Dunedin, yesterday evening is...
Enjoying the ceremonial start to the Otago Rally in the Octagon, Dunedin, yesterday evening is rally ace Hayden Paddon. It is the start of the New Zealand Rally Championship, which Paddon has won five times.

Later this year, he hopes to complete his studies and get an apprenticeship as a mechanic.

About 100 drivers have entered this year’s 16-stage, 276km rally.

The rally began last night with a ceremonial start in Dunedin’s Octagon where the public could get a close-up view of the range of competing cars.

But the racing will officially begin this morning near Palmerston, before heading to Moonlight, Middlemarch, Hyde and Waikouaiti.

Tomorrow, they will head further south to Lee Flat, Waipori, Kuri Bush, Whare Flat, Circle Hill and Taieri Mouth.

The winners will be crowned at the Brighton Domain at 3pm.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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