Valentina Bellomo / stuff
Co-driver Bella Haggarty, left, 13, wants to study on the go as she teams up with her driver father, Sean Haggarty.
Sean Haggarty is ready to take driving instructions from his 13-year-old daughter Bella on Saturday.
The father-daughter combo is one of 82 teams ready to compete in the South Canterbury Rally, round three of the New Zealand Rally Championship, when the flag falls around 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Bella, a student at St. Margaret’s College in Christchurch, is the youngest participant in the event and will call out pace notes to her driver father.
Bella strives to learn on the go and take it race after race.
âI’m prepared for this rally. I started this sport at this age because I have always enjoyed driving cars and have a fascination for speed. I’ve seen my dad play and now I’ve joined him. ”
Bella is excited to be driving with her father as she can spend more time with him.
âIt’s a cool thing for a father and daughter to team up for rallies. It’s intense, there is a lot of communication and I enjoy it. “
The papa-daughter duo finished seventh in the championship.
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“We’ll be in our WRX and our car will have a Scottish flag,” said Sean.
He is proud that his daughter quickly mastered the demands of the sport and made good progress.
âThey teamed up recently and we did a couple of sprints and the Canterbury rally a couple of weeks ago.
âThe legal age for a passenger is 12 years and now that she is old enough, she is my passenger.
“She really enjoys it and learns very quickly. We’ll buy the pace notes for the recce now and she will write down descriptions and take notes. Later that night she will develop these descriptions and prepare pace notes.
“It’s good to be young and new to something and nothing can be better than learning on the track as it will make her a better co-driver in the days to come.”
The Haggartys are seeded at 22 in a field that includes former world rally champion and South Cantabrian Hayden Paddon, who is attending his “home” event for the eighth time.
âThat means a lot to me personally. I look forward to the rally here year after year. Even if I’m not staying in South Canterbury now, I always consider Timaru my home and many people from that region have supported me. It’s always good to be home, âsaid Paddon.
Paddon, who leads the NZ Rally Championship with 88 points, is driving the Hyundai i20 AP4 with longtime co-driver John Kennard.
âI’m looking forward to Saturday and the preparations are looking good. The team worked hard on the car and we should be ready to go, âhe said.
South Canterbury Car Club operations manager and rally secretary Howard Atwill said the cars did a scouting tour on Thursday and Friday ahead of Levels’ one-day event on Saturday morning.
âThe South Canterbury Rally is always exciting. The roads are the best in the country and in great condition, the curves are well maintained, and the views are scenic and spectacular. It’s going to be a great rally, âsaid Atwill.
The rally has a total distance of 340.25 kilometers with the 10 special stages over 155.7 kilometers. The last stage is a Levels Raceway and starts at 3:31 pm.
âWith 82 starters and seven classes, it will be a rally to watch out for. With the last level at levels. It will definitely be exciting. “
Third-placed Robbie Stokes and sister Amy Stokes want to repeat their 2018 exploits.
âWe are looking for this race because we have many fond memories of it. Last time we made it onto the podium first. We try to underpin this performance and do our best, âthey said.
Robbie talks about her journey and credits his father, who paved the way for the siblings to gather a love for this sport.
âWe started rallying in 2016 and started with the Canterbury Rally. We were inspired by our father Brian Stokes. We always watched him rally and were fascinated. He’s been rallying for over 40 years and also has two NZ auto rally championships in his name. “
âThe streets here are great. But with the rain and weather forecast for Saturday worrying, things could be different, âhe said.