Gore’s Pettigrew drives borrowed car to rallysprint victory

Ari Pettigrew
Ari Pettigrew
Cromwell driver Ari Pettigrew, in a borrowed 4WD Ford Fiesta Pronto, won the Eastern Southland Car Club’s Catlins Rallysprint by the barest of margins on Saturday.

Pettigrew set a time on his last run of the day that pipped Andrew Graves (Gore, Mitsubishi EVO 3) by 0.32sec.

The club held a rallysprint this year in place of its annual rally, and the competition was intense.

Competitors had three runs at an 8.5km piece of road to set their best time in leg one before tackling an 8.3km stretch, essentially leg one in the opposite direction, three times to set their best times in leg two.

Their best time from each leg was combined to give their final placing in the event.

Graves had set the fastest time of 4min 19.07sec on leg one, giving him a margin of 2.61sec over Pettigrew.

Open 2WD national champion Pettigrew, at the wheel of a car owned and also driven by David Kirk, of Gore, sealed the win on the final run of leg two with a scorching time of 4min 28.78sec, eclipsing Graves’ best by 2.93sec, giving Pettigrew the victory by 0.32sec.

Pettigrew was “over the moon” to win the sprint.

“I built confidence in the car during the day and then it all seemed to click.”

Graves was full of praise for Pettigrew’s effort.

“Ari was outstanding in a borrowed car,” Graves said.

“It was an absolutely huge day. The weather was terrible and the road very slippery in places. There would be sun and then it was teeming with rain.

"A dry run was a bonus but there weren’t many of those.”

Graves also acknowledged his new co-driver, Marshall Sayer.

“He did an outstanding job and enjoyed himself.”

Balclutha driver Dean Bond (EVO 6.5) was third, a shade over 7sec off the winning time, after briefly holding the lead during leg one.

John Spencer (Dunedin (EVO 7 RS) and Mark McMillan (Invercargill, Subaru Legacy RS) were fourth and fifth respectively.

Spencer, McMillan and Cromwell driver Ray Casey (Nissan Pulsar GTiR) were the top three in class D, while Winton driver Brendon Mitchell (Datsun 1600) took class C honours from Barry Mills (Balclutha, Hillman Avenger) and Sean Sands (Springston, Ford Escort Mk2).

Victory in Class B went to Dunedin driver Ian Warren, in his Nissan Pulsar VZR, Jake Thomas (Mosgiel, Toyota Levin AE86) was second and Craig Cormack (Gore, Toyota Corolla AE86) third.

Hamish Roche, of Dunedin, had class A all to himself in his Suzuki Swift GTi.

Casualties included Craig Barclay (Balclutha), who had a flywheel problem in his Ford Escort, Richie Chadwick (Dunedin), who lost ignition spark in his Toyota Corolla GT, and Isabella Magee (Dunedin), with a driveline problem in her Honda CRX.

Queenstown driver Nigel Ede was the day’s unluckiest competitor, when a gearbox problem before the first timed run forced him out of the event.

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