Catlins Rally Field Full of Interest
2 AUGUST 2012
Catlins Rally Field Full of Interest
As always the Catlins Coast Rally which takes place this Saturday will be full of interest and intrigue.
The rally has attracted a massive field with 89 entries. It is a quality line up too, with top drivers, interesting characters and some special cars among that number.
The winner will be a worthy victor as the top seeds are drivers of the calibre of two-time winner and defending champion Dean Bond of Balcutha in a Mitsubishi EVO 6.5, Kaikoura driver Regan Ross in a Mitsubishi EVO 9, 2005 winner and former New Zealand Rally Xtreme and Mainland Rally Series Champion, Derek Ayson of Gore in a Mitsubishi EVO 8 and fellow Gore driver and fourth seed Andrew Graves, the 2010 winner in his older Mitsubishi EVO 3.
Behind them are a group of drivers who will be snapping at their heels such as Rhys Gardner, Brisbane based kiwi 2011 National Hillclimb Champion - Lyndon Galbraith, last years second placegetter Paul Cross of Gore and Scott Simpson of Oamaru.
The class battles will also be intense. In Class A for 2-wheel-drive cars from 0-1300cc Taylor Jansen of Christchurch and Peter Fridd of Oamaru look set to fight out the class in their Datsun 1200 Coupe and Toyota Starlet respectively. Meanwhile Class B for 2-wheel-drive cars from 1301-1600cc will be a tussle between current Mainland Rally Series Class Champion Mike Townshend who is based in Australia, Phil Terry of Invercargill, Carter Strang of Wallacetown and Craig Cormack of Gore in Toyotas plus Hadley MacKay of Invercargill in a Citreon Saxo VTS and Kevin Laird of Gore in yet another Toyota. Class C for the larger capacity 2-wheel-drive cars should see a massive battle between Marcus Van Klink, Deane Buist and Duncan McCrostie.
Class D (4-wheel-drive) honours are wide open as the first three placegetters in the rally are not eligible. That means if the top seeds come through drivers such as Gardner, Galbraith, Cross and Simpson could snare the class.
Graves will be the hot favourite in Class E for Pre-1996 4-wheel-drive cars but if he finishes in the top outright placings Neville Krammer of Wallacetown (Subaru Legacy), Gary Reynolds of Greymouth in an EVO 2 and Paul Dickson of Timaru (EVO 3) move into contention.
Barry Mills of Balclutha, an amazing sixth overall last year in his elderly Hillman Avenger, is odds-on favourite in the 0-1700cc Classic section while Bert Murray of Waimate in his Mazda RX7 and Graham Ferguson of Greymouth in a Ford Escort RS1800 are the top competitors in 1701cc & over Classic class.
Interesting cars and drivers abound throughout the field with iconic vehicles such as the XYGT Falcon 351 to be driven by Australian Stew Reid and the Fiat 131R of Upper Hutt driver Tony Aimers.
Top WRC and Asia-Pacific Rally Championship co-driver Glenn MacNeall will drive a Toyota Trueno with his partner, top kiwi driver Emma Gilmour co-driving. This is the second time the couple have reversed roles at Catlins.
Jeff Judd, currently co-driving for Indonesian driver Subhan Aksa in the Production World Rally Championship, will drive a MK1 Escort in the rally.
Gore driver Craig Hewlett will receive a free entry into the event after winning the National Junior Clubsport Championship earlier this year. Each year rally organisers, the Eastern Southland Car Club offer free entry to the Junior Champion and this year it was one of their own. Hewlett took maximum points in all three events at the Clubsport Championship - the Motorkhana, Autocross and Bent Sprint.
The first woman to win the National Group N Rally Championship - Deborah Kibble - now living in Waimate is in the field.
The rally winner will take home the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy while the top South Otago crew win the Kerry O'Donohue Memorial Trophy. The top Otago Sports Car Club crew win the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy.
Monit Rally Computers once again offer superb prizes for novice drivers and co-drivers this year as they continue to foster and develop newcomers to the sport. They are also donating another prize to someone who makes an outstanding contribution to the event.
Team Ralliart are offering prizes to any Mitsubishi competitors who finish in the top three overall - a $1000 parts credit with Team Ralliart for a Mitsubishi crew that win the event, a $300 parts credit to a Mitsubishi crew that finish second and a $200 parts credit to a Mitsubishi crew that finish third.
The event is a round of both the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series and the Mainland Rally Series.
This years Catlins Coast Rally again features eight Special Stages totalling 157 kilometres of competitive mileage along with a further 90 kilometres of Touring Stages. As is traditional the first car will leave from Owaka Motors in Owaka at 9.00am on Saturday 4 August.
The final stage will again be the very popular Riverside Reserve stage in Balclutha, a stage that always attracts an excellent crowd.
Support for the 2012 Catlins Coast Rally comes from MWH, the Rosebank Lodge, SouthRoads, Owaka Motors, Century Yuasa Batteries and Vodafone as well as the many Special Stage and Service Park sponsors.