A melted rubber ring was to blame for what could have been a catastrophic accident for Ben Jagger and co-driver Ben Hawkins at Rally New Zealand held over the weekend in the Waikato, Franklin and Raglan regions.
Hurtling through one of the special stages on Saturday afternoon the pair's Subaru completely lost all brakes while doing in excess of 120kms along a loose metal road.
"We very nearly destroyed the car when we were hooning along the straight flat out and we suddenly had no brakes - my foot went straight to the floor! We were doing around 120kms when we hit some water which luckily slowed us down." said Jagger.
A large pond which had formed across the road due to heavy rainfall was the lucky break the pair needed slowing them down and saving them any major damage to the car and potentially serious injury to themselves.
It would seem that an exhaust leak sent hot gases onto a rubber component in the suspension which melted and then caught in the brakeline severing it completely.
"We managed to get to the end of the stage using the hand brake and then we fixed it before starting the next stage but unfortunately we were a little late and incurred a time penalty." said Jagger.
After the first day of the two day Rally New Zealand Jagger was showing good form and sitting in sixth place overall. Ahead of him were three past national champions Chris West, Richard Mason and Hayden Paddon plus defending champion Dean Sumner and regular front runner Emma Gilmour so he was happy with their progress thus far.
"We were looking good after the first day and I wasn't expecting to be so far up the order after losing so much time when the brakes failed and then having to fix it between stages." he said.
After such a good start to the rally Jagger and Hawkins were heartbroken when after just a few kilometres into the first stage on Day Two their good run came to an abrupt end.
"Just three or four kms into the first stage the input shaft on the gearbox broke. It was very frustrating because I was looking forward to doing the day's stages that we knew well and we were expecting to be strong there." said Jagger.
With a change to the points system which awards bonus points for finishing rallies this year Jagger lost a number of positions in the championship dropping from seventh to 10th in the Group N standings.
"The way the points are this season we have dropped a few spots with not finishing day two and now we are chasing Ben Hunt for the Junior Championship." he said.
Next up and just over two weeks away is Rally Wairarapa the third of a five event calendar this year. Jagger plans on spending some quality time with the car to have it working at it's optimum before then.
"We're going to go out and do some testing so I can get the centre diff set up where I am happy with it. This is really the first time we have brought the car home from a rally without it having to go straight into Imperial Panelbeaters so that gives us more time to spend getting ourselves ready for the next event." said Jagger.
Further information regarding Ben Jagger and the SeedForce Subaru Impreza WRX is available at www.benjagger.co.nz.