Leading New Zealand rally driver Matt Summerfield is best known in recent years for his stirring performances in out-of-date Subaru Imprezas. But this weekend that all changes.
Runner-up in last year's Brian Green Properties New Zealand Rally Championship, Summerfield and co-driving sister Nicole have ditched their 2006 Subaru Impreza STi for a new-generation Mitsubishi Mirage rally car.
Owned and run by Ralliart, the purpose-built Mirage will give the Rangiora pairing a better chance at outright success when this year's national series kicks off on Saturday with the two-day Rally of Otago.
"It's a fantastic opportunity that Chris Little [Ralliart] and Andrew Simms Mitsubishi have offered us. We needed to step up to a newer car, and this Mirage has proven reliable and is already developed," said Summerfield. It was previously rallied by Brian Green for two seasons.
After driving his new car at Rally Otago's pre-event Shakedown, Matt said that by the end of the second run, he was getting 'more in sync' with the Mirage.
"I'll be taking it easy early on but looking for an improvement as I get more familiar with the car."
The Summerfields joined other crews for Rally Otago reconnaissance yesterday, and were impressed with the condition of the roads after recent bad weather.
"I'm happy with our reconnaissance so far. The stages on the first day look super fast, and I think being second-car on the road will be a good position."
While it will be the first time the Summerfields have competed in the Andrew Simms Mitsubishi Mirage in the New Zealand Rally Championship, Matt has driven it on previous occasions. He drove the car to victory in the Tauranga Clubmans Rally and at the Ashley Forest Rallysprint.
Rally Otago is the first of six championship rounds with crews contesting 17 high speed special stages this weekend, starting and finishing in Dunedin.
Matt Summerfield 027 345 2929
Nicole Summerfield 027 424 5019