Strong line-up for Catlins Coast Rally

The Catlins Coast Rally celebrates 20 years of action today with a spectacular entry list of more than 80 competitors.

Cromwell driver Hayden Paddon will be running at the head of the field, not competing, but testing his Hyundai i20 AP4.

Paddon will drive with notes to prepare for upcoming events, something the actual rally participants will not be able to use.

Four-time rally winner Andrew Graves, with son Hayden in the co-driver’s seat, is the top seed in his ageing but fast Mitsubishi EVO 3. Graves was well on target for win number five last year, only to lose a wheel and go off the road on the penultimate stage while leading by over three minutes.

At two and three are top New Zealand Rally Championship contenders Matt Summerfield and Josh Marston respectively. Summerfield will pilot his Mitsubishi Mirage and has been in the running previously, while Marston in his Holden Barina AP4 claimed third and second in the last two NZ rally championships.

Robbie Stokes of Waiuku will start fourth in his Ford Fiesta AP4.

At five is last year’s winner Garet Thomas in his father-in-law Dave Ollis’ Subaru WRX Sti, the car he won the event in last year.

Last year, he entered the final stage in third place but charged through to first as other cars fell by the wayside.

Three-time winner Dean Bond of Balclutha, who finished third last year, is seeded at six this year in his EVO 6.5.

Two-time New Zealand Rally champion Ben Hunt of Auckland, who is the reigning national champion, will also contest the event in a Subaru Impreza H6.

The rally will start at 10am today in Owaka with just over 150km of special stages and will finish back in Owaka about 3.30pm. Servicing will take place in Owaka throughout the day.


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