2010 Energywise Rally - Day One Blog by Geoff Bryan

I don’t think it was a good idea to watch Bathurst the day before taking off on the AA ENERGYWISE™ Rally.

Watching the Great Race one day and tackling the mean streets of Remuera the next as we started on a loop out of Auckland was quite a contrast.

The idea, of course, is to show how much fuel can be saved simply by taking a common sense approach to driving rather than planting the foot at every opportunity.

I have to say that I hadn’t been encouraged by the early wake-up call – not through an alarm clock but from the hammering of the hail on our corrugated iron roof.

There was a wintry feel as we waited for our 8.18 start time to roll around at the Ellerslie Racecourse, although there was an appearance on the TVNZ “Breakfast” Show beforehand to warm me up – a discussion with Tamati Coffey and Steve Gurney on, among other things, the merits of a conservative, fuel-saving approach to driving.

First lesson as we drove through Remuera, Kohimarama,  down to the waterfront and into the city – in Auckland, a safe following distance is just an opportunity for someone to squeeze in front, forcing a sudden braking move.

Second lesson – the time taken to complete that loop through the city and on to the motorway shows the extent of the traffic problem facing Len Brown.

Freed from the noose that is the Auckland roading system and released onto the motorway, the pattern for the day was set.

The old Crowded House number “Four Seasons In One Day” was the theme as we ran through Waikato, with a hearty lunch stop at Te Kuiti.

There’s no doubt that it’s an advantage to have done this before. Veterans of previous rallies were offering all sorts of advice to those of us who were novices.

Whether the advice was relevant or not was another question !!

In the afternoon, the run was from Te Kuiti to Wanganui – this was not a run that put pressure on the navigator as there were about two well sign-posted turns to take – this was a duty that I managed to fulfil while my co-driver Michelle Gimblett did a great job in getting us to the right place.

 I know this rally is supposed to be a fun event, and it is….but never believe anyone in any form of motorsport when they tell you that they are just there to have fun. As soon as they are on the road, the red mist comes down and the spirit of competition takes over.

 The Honda Accord is a dream to drive – it’s comfortable, holds the road well in – as we discovered today – all conditions and when the rain and hail took hold, there was always the heated seats to lift the mood.

 Tomorrow, Wanganui to Wellington with the extra challenge of trying to be a fuel-saver while going over the Rimutakas and in the afternoon back up to Palmerston North.

So far so good for a couple of novices on the road.

Click here to view results from Day One

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