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Five Former Winners Head Catlins rally Seedings

22 JULY 2013

Five Former Winners Head Catlins rally Seedings

Five former winners head the seedings for the Catlins Coast Rally this Saturday.

Defending champion Rhys Gardner of Balclutha is the top seed in his Mitsubishi EVO 7. Gardner charged home to victory over the final stages last year to take a popular victory. This season he has contested several National Championship rounds with a best placing of sixth in the Rally Of Otago along with new co-driver Alex Ramsay of Dunedin. Gardner was also selected to attend
the 2013 Elite Motorsport Academy in Dunedin.

2009 and 2011 winner, Dean Bond of Balclutha, starts at two in his Mitsubishi EVO 6.5  and will be happy with a solid finish this year. Bond, the Eastern Southland Car Club Champion, and Ross Moody finished fourth overall in the recent Rally Of Otago amongst the cream of New Zealand rallying talent, winning the Allcomers Section in the process. 

Andrew Graves of Gore, the winner in 2010, is at three and will no doubt extract every last second out of his elderly Mitsubishi EVO 3. Graves and Jared Leebody were second last year and third in 2011. 2004 victor Deane Buist of Christchurch is seeded fourth in his Mitsubishi EVO 4 this year after finishing fourth last year in a Ford Escort BDA.

Derek Ayson of Gore, the winner in 2005, has forsaken 4-wheel-drive for a run in his 2-wheel-drive Nissan powered Ford Escort. However he has finished as high as third in a 2-wheel-drive car in the past. The former Mainland Rally Series, Rally Xtreme, and Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series Champion and co-driver Gav McDermott start at five.

The very quick Marcus Van Klink of Kaiapoi is seeded at six in his Toyota Corolla AE86 ahead of Bert Murray of Waimate in his Mazda RX7. Carter Strang of Wallacetown in his new Mitsubishi EVO 6.5, Scott Simpson of Oamaru (EVO 7) and Nevelle Krammer of Wallacetown, the winner of the recent Laird Motorsport Interclub Autocross series, complete the top ten.

Two very rapid locals, Mike Verdoner in a Ford Escort and Barry Mills, now with a new  2 litre engine in his Hillman Avenger, will be at eleven and twelve respectively. 

Well known Christchurch driver, Trevor Crowe, starts sixteenth in a Subaru WRX Ute built from a 1.5 litre Impreza Sedan which will no doubt create a lot of interest while four North Islanders, Dave Wright of Te Aroha, Tony Aimers of Upper Hutt plus Kayne Barrie and Chris Alexander of Auckland, make the trek south for the event. Wright is an experienced campaigner being a former 2-wheel-drive NZ Rally Xtreme Champion and is the highest seeded at eighteen. Aimers and Barrie have two of the more interesting cars in the event, a Fiat 131 Abarth Replica in Aimers case while Barrie, formerly a top runner in the NZ Rally Championship, brings a V12 powered BMW Hartge H5. Alexander is a former overall and 2-wheel-drive New Zealand Rally Xtreme Champion co-driver.  

Dunedin driver Malcolm Budd will give up his normal stewarding and competitor relations duties to drive his first Catlins Rally while George Keast of Invercargill is the youngest driver at just sixteen years of age.

The class battles will be just as intriguing as the overall result. The overall contenders in their 4-wheel-drive cars will fight out Class D honours although the top three overall do not qualify for Class placings. In Class G for Classic cars of 1701cc and over Ayson and Murray should battle it out just ahead of Verdoner and Mills. Van Klink is in the box seat in Class C (1601cc and over) while Graves and Krammer are the top runners in Class E (Pre 96 4WD). Gore drivers Craig Cormack and Kevin Laird are early favourites for Class B (1301-1600cc) while Taylor Jansen of Christchurch and Oamaru drivers John Mather and Peter Fridd should have a good tussle in Class A (0-1300cc). Wyndham driver Nigel Marshall is a leading contender in Class F (0-1700cc Classics) in his Datsun 1200.

Seventy cars will start the event at Owaka Motors in Owaka at 9am on Saturday morning with the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy up for grabs for the winner. The first South Otago crew home will earn the Kerry O'Donohue Memorial Trophy while the leading Otago Sports Car Club crew vie for the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy.

Only the iconic Cannibal Bay stage remains unchanged this year. The longest stage in New Zealand rallying this year will be the 48 kilometre Waitepeka Stage late in the day. Featuring many roads never used before, the stage will be open and flowing and includes 4.5 kilometres of private road. In total crews will cover 163 kilometres of Special Stage competition with a further 80 kilometres of Touring Stages. The final stage takes place at the spectator friendly Riverside Reserve in Balclutha at 3.27pm.

For the first time the rally will use 'Rallysafe', a tracking and timing system that among other features allows real time tracking via GPS and satellite transmission, in car hazard notification including SOS capability and the abliity to view the progress of any car via the internet or google maps. Volt TV Productions will film the event for television coverage in the near future.

The rally will be Round 3 of the Mainland Rally Championship and Round 2 of the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series.

Support for the 2013 Catlins Coast Rally comes from the Rosebank Lodge, SouthRoads, Owaka Motors and Century Batteries.


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