Photo : Fast Company / Ben Hughes

In a second day full of event drama Subaru driver Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick remained on top of the Targa North Island leaderboard, the Orewa pair arriving in Rotorua with a minute and-a-half lead over  Jason Gill and Mark Robinson.

The big story on the second day of the new three-day North Island event, however, was the forced cancellation of three stages. The field was halted before it went into Special Stage 11, the 38.53km Hobbiton stage between Cambridge and Matamata, so that an ambulance could respond to a 111 call unrelated to the event.

Then just after the stage was finally started, Paul Lampp lost control of his Ford Escort and hit a power pole. Lampp and co-driver Graham Pedler were uninjured but with time needed to repair the pole the decision was made to cancel that stage and the two others that immediately followed it, the 17.33 km Richmond Downs north of Matamata, and the repeat of the 38.53km Hobbiton. That meant the field had a longer than normal lunch and sercvice break at the Hobbiton Movie Set before heading west for the final 34km stage of the day at Waotu near Awapuni.

Class-wise the only big change was the loss of Allcomers 4WD day one stage winner Glenn Inkster and co-driver Spencer Winn with engine issues in their Mitsubishi Evo.

The other class leaders at the end of the first day also had good second days, Porsche GT3 pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant from Dunedin remaining in charge in Modern 2WD, and Ross and Carmel Graham (Holden Torana A9X) from New Plymouth maintaining their advantage over fellow husband and wife pair Tony and Jo Butler (Cheetah V8) in Metalman Classic 2WD.

Neither managed a perfect run, with Dippie and Grant beaten in the third stage by fellow Porsche pair Richard Krogh and Glenn Sharratt, and the Butlers beating the Grahams through the first stage – but the status quo was upheld in the other three.

That said, there was more to each class than the battle for the lead, with at least four pairings rarely more than seconds apart in Metalman Classic 2WD and another three vying for the final podium spot in Modern 2WD.

Barry Kirk-Burnnand and Dave O’Carroll have been the dominant players in Metalman Classic 2WD for several years, but this weekend the BMW M3 pair from Auckland  have found themselves battling for third place with Barry’s BMW 325i-mounted son Carl and his co-driver, Sam Gordon, and the similar car of fellow Aucklanders Rex McDonald and Daniel Prince.

Kirk-Burnnand Senior and O’Carroll finished the first day in second place in class behind the Grahams but today the pair slipped back to fifth in class behind the Grahams, the Butlers and the McDonald/Prince and Carl Kirk-Burnnand/Gordon 325i BMW four-doors.

Also making a big impression was long-time North Auckland race and rally driver Greg Goudie and son Michael in Greg’s freshly finished Mk 1 BDA Escort. Though the car was finished days before the event the Goudies proved immediately competitive and this morning they were second quickest through the new Pumpkin Hill stage before beating Tony and Jo Butler by two seconds and the Grahams by three to claim a breakthrough class win in the second stage.