Gardner Top Seed For Rankleburn rally
16 OCTOBER 2013
Gardner Top Seed For Rankleburn rally
Rhys Gardner heads the seedings for the MLT/Heartland Hotels/Ernslaw One Limited Rankleburn Rally in West Otago this Saturday, 19 October.
The Balclutha driver will be at the wheel of the ex-Dean Sumner Mitsubishi EVO 9.5 he has recently purchased with regular co-driver Alex Ramsay of Dunedin alongside. The event is the third and final round of the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series 2013 and also part of the Eastern Southland Car Club Rally Championship. Gardner is the reigning Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series Champion, a title he gained after finishing second at Rankleburn last year behind Andrew Graves who is not competing this year.
A field of 29 entries has been received for the event which will be based at Telford Tops Road in the Rankleburn Forest. The venue is approximately one hour from Gore and 35 minutes from Balclutha. The rally will comprise five Special Stages totalling 80 kilometres of high speed competition.
The second seeds are Carter Strang/Stewart Robbie of Invercargill in their EVO 6. Strang has made the transition to 4-wheel-drive power this year and has shown impressive speed. Derek Ayson, now of Gore, a former Mainland Series, Rally Xtreme and Southern Series Rally Champion is seeded third for the event. Ayson won this event in 2011 in a Mitsubishi EVO 8 but suffered head gasket issues last year. This season he has reverted to a 2-wheel-drive Nissan powered Ford Escort. He used the car to great effect to finish third at Catlins earlier this year and was the first 2-wheel-drive car home on that occasion. Heather Johnston, who normally co-drives with Deborah Kibble, will co-drive for Ayson.
Next up is Neville Krammer of Invercargill. Krammer has been a fast and consistent competitor over several seasons in an older Subaru Legacy. Fourth here last year, he will be another who will be quick. Wife Hannah will co-drive for Neville. Barry Mills of Balclutha is fresh from his best ever finish at Catlins in an elderly Hillman Avenger powered by a 2 litre engine. Mills finished fourth that day with long time co-driver Mark Allington and was seventh and first 2-wheel-drive car here last year. Next up is Jim McDonald of Gore in his EVO 5 with Michael Gunn alongside after a tenth placing at Catlins this year. Shaun McMillan of Invercargill is the seventh seed in a similar car to Krammer's. Last year he finshed fifth, one spot behind Krammer. Shaun's father Brian will perform the co-driving duties. The top ten is rounded out by Paul Goatley of Balclutha in a Nissan Bluebird turbo, multiple Eastern Southland Car Club Champion Kevin Laird, now resident in Alexandra, and James Worker of Wyndham in a Ford Fiesta.
A number of new crews will line up for their rally debuts in the event.
Ayson is in a strong position in the overall Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series points for drivers as the final round approaches at Rankleburn while Michael Gunn who will co-drive for Jim McDonald is well placed to grab enough points and take out the co-drivers series.
Jim McDonald of Gore leads the Class D drivers series while Ayson has a huge lead in Class C with 64 points. The Class B drivers battle is led by Malcom Budd of Dunedin with 45 points. Budd will not compete at Rankleburn leaving Craig Cormack of Gore, Kevin Laird and another Gore driver Graham McRae the chance to score a good points haul to seal the series title.
Peter Fridd of Oamaru comes south to defend his healthy series lead in Class A.
Gunn is in a healthy position to take the Class D co-drivers title while in Class C Graves and Gavin McDermott, both of whom have co-driven for Ayson during the season share the points lead but Allington is poised to swoop in their absence as he is just 5 points behind. Regan Little, the co-driver for Malcolm Budd has the Class B co-drivers points lead but Jane Blair, Laird's co-driver, could snatch the title with a good points finish. In Class A Cherie Fridd, wife and co-driver of Peter Fridd, has a good lead.
The event prizegiving will take place at Heartland Hotels Croydon, Main Queenstown Highway in Gore.
on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club