Waikuku brother and sister Robbie and Amy Stokes won their first rally over the weekend at the Lone Star Rally of Canterbury.
The pair came home first by just 8.7 seconds to beat Josh Marston and Andrew Graves after 119km of racing.
It was only the third rally in which Robbie had competed in his four-wheel-drive turbocharged Ford Fiesta AP4.
For the past three seasons the pair had competed in a two-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta R2.
“We are rapt with how the car performs.
“Our engineer, Ian Mason (of Nelson) has built an incredible car from scratch and it is just awesome to drive,” Robbie says. “In three events we have gone from a DNF (did not finish) to second overall, and now a win.”
There was a close battle between the top two drivers on the seven stages, with the lead swapping four times.
However, Robbie claimed five of the seven stage wins.
Hot and dusty conditions added a few extra challenges, especially on the stages in the Ashley Forest. The lack of wind caused the dust to hang in the trees.
“Normally, the Rally of Canterbury is held on Queen’s Birthday Weekend, so we are dealing with snow and ice rather than heat and dust,” Amy says.
“There were some sections coming down Mt Grey Road where I was hoping Robbie’s eyesight was better than mine, because I couldn’t see anything through the dust.”
Robbie had to manage some overheating issues throughout the day.
“It was a good learning experience for us because the car wasn’t running perfectly. The engine got hotter than we would have liked.
“On most stages we just had to manage that and make sure we got to the finish line without doing any damage,” Robbie says.
“We were also running second on the road, which we hadn’t experienced before. It meant that there was still a lot of loose gravel, as only Josh had been through before us. Last year we were seeded 32 and this year we were car three, so it was a little bit different.”
The pair, along with Marston, came across some cattle on Stage 5 from the Hurunui River mouth to Motunau Beach.
“Just after one of the spectator points we came through a cattle stop to find 10-plus cows and calves on the road. We had to slow down a little to get around them, but they dispersed off the road reasonably quickly,” Amy says.
This was not the first time the Stokes name has been on the trophy for the Canterbury Rally. Their father, Brian, won the event three times time in 1983.
Robbie and Amy will compete in two weeks at the Lawrence Rally, and will be back in the Ford Fiesta AP4 at the City of Auckland Rally and Battle of Jacks Ridge on November 14 and 15.