Tauranga's Phil Campbell has left round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the International Rally of Whangarei, disappointed to have retired while showing strong speed.
Campbell had originally planned to sit out most of the 2017 season while he and his team build a new Ford Fiesta AP4 car, but couldn't resist the chance to take on the Whangarei event.
With a last minute decision to enter, Campbell's regular co-driver Venita Fabbro was unavailable, leaving Lisa Hudson to take on co-driving duties.
Friday night saw two super special stages, stages that have cost Campbell a fast start in past years, but this year Campbell made a strong start and would go into the overnight break in third place.
With the more traditional special stages taking place the following day, Campbell worked his way back into the swing of things, not having competed in a rally in eight months.
Accordingly, Campbell improved on every stage across the morning and was sitting comfortably within the top ten after special stage five.
That would be the end of the good run though, with problems slowing Campbell in stage six.
After repairing the car in the service park, all the good work of the Campbell Rallysport team came to nothing when a drive train failure, putting a premature end to the pair's rally.
“Obviously finishing with a DNF was not what we had in mind at Whangarei, but I'm pretty happy with the speed we were able to achieve,” says Campbell.
“It was great to be back behind the wheel at that level again and Lisa did a great job slotting in.”
The team will now assess their options for their next event, which is likely to be the Goldrush Rally Coromandel in August.