2010 Energywise Rally - Day Two Blog by Geoff Bryan
Day two of the AA Energywise Rally started on a cool and crisp morning in Wanganui – a city that has, without a hint of panic, come through the fact that Michael Laws is no longer the mayor. A couple of radio interviews (Phil in Wanganui, Anna in New Plymouth) and away we went.
A thorough and searching examination of the strengths and weaknesses of our performance on day one (admittedly the ‘strengths’ part of that discussion had not taken very long) – plus my co-driver, Michelle Gimblett, hiving off to Wellington for publicity purposes – had led to a change in the driving order. Tour photographer Jake Morgan (quickly dubbed ‘The Honda Stig’) teamed up with me for the opening run to Palmerston North, through the Manawatu Gorge, down to Masterton and over the Rimutakas to Wellington. Not the usual way of getting to the capital from Wanganui but I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a magnificent way to see some of the very attractive scenery in the lower part of the North Island. Jake is English and had no idea what to expect in that twisting, snaking, stomach-churning climb from Wairarapa to Wellington.
Was it malicious of me to insist that he drove?
Jake’s tactical approach in our beautifully presented Honda Accord was quite different to what we had chosen on day one. For example, I remember passing and being passed by a number of competitors on day one – on day two, it took a mega-stop caused by roading construction just outside Palmerston North before we were caught by another rally vehicle. The delay was long enough to give local drivers a very good idea of what it’s like to drive every day in Auckland (good luck with that, Len).
At those roadworks, Jake became living proof of the female contention that men can only think of one thing at a time. He decided to take advantage of the lengthy delay by taking on his photographic role. Grabbing his camera, he leapt from the car in a single bound, ready to catch more graphic images of our epic journey. He was not to be distracted from his task, even though he had left the car in gear! The impending crisis – and the embarrassment that might have come with it – were narrowly averted.
In spite of all of this – and having to sit behind a driver change from another manufacturer in the middle of the main street of Masterton (was this a deliberate ploy to delay us), Jake came through with flying colours, guiding us to Parliament for lunch with an improved performance on day one.
After a Parliamentary lunch that was heavy on carbo-loading, there was a speech from Gerry Brownlee in which he expressed his concern that if our fuel-saving ways were widely adopted, then there would be a huge drop in the amount of tax collected (do you think another way might be found to compensate for this loss)??
The afternoon run to Palmerston North was much gentler, as we stuck with State Highway One as far as Levin, and then switched to State Highway 57. There are two options along this road to get you to Palmerston North – either 57 or 56.......... with the numbers so close together, it’s so easy to get mixed up between the two......(isn’t it, Michelle?!)
And to the non-participant driver who was trying to get by on one of those long straights leading to Palmy, and who was desperate to burn more fuel in trying to get his ancient vehicle up to passing speed, all I can say is that I have a planet to save.