MALMESBURY – Ashley Haigh-Smith and navigator Nail Burns of AHSRacing won the CPMCC Malmesbury Rally, Round Three of the WC Championship on Saturday 4 June.
Winning both their S5 class and the overall was something of a ‘monkey-off-the-back’ moment for Malmesbury native, Haigh-Smith, as he’d not been able to win the race (in its regional or national incarnation) in nine years of trying. “We had a great weekend and I owe it all to my team for their hard work,” he commented afterward.
“Not making it to the start of the last national was a huge disappointment, after all the work my team had put in, so we wanted to come out and have a good showing and to also prove how strong the Haltech system is,” he said.
According to Haigh-Smith the Haltech system was crucial to the victory. “We were the first car on the road so we were doing a lot of sweeping,” he explains.“The Swartland has this distinctive top soil which is very loose and marbly.Thatextra bit of power (from the Haltech system) made a massive difference,” he said.
Haigh-Smith was both surprised and highly impressed with the level of racing and the depth of speed in the 28-car field on the day. “Normally in the regional the gaps can be quite big, because we’re in a national class. But, it was quite a surprise when halfway through the rally – on stage three – we had a lead of only three seconds,” he said.
The overall winning margin was eventually 28 seconds from Shaun Jones and Craig R. Gray in their Subaru Impreza 2.0.“The guys put in so much effort, we had to go pretty much flat-out everywhere to stay up front,” he said.
Aside from race-testing the new Haltech system, Haigh-Smith and his crew also fine-tuned other parts of the car. “There were lots of jumps so we found a few other things we needed to tweak but we really got things fine-tuned and this has us feeling very confident for PE where now we feel that we will be on even terms with our other competitors,” he said.
Before doing battle in PE however, Haigh-Smith will jet off to Ireland to spectate at the Donegal International rally, looks to be a few surprises lined up there too.