Talented line-up to contest Catlins Coast Rally

Andrew Graves
Andrew Graves
A top line-up of drivers will be on the start line for the Catlins Coast rally tomorrow.

The event continues to grow and a field of 67 cars will head to the first stage at Owaka at 10am tomorrow.

The top two drivers from last year's New Zealand Rally Championship, several past winners of the Catlins event, a strong contingent from the North Island and an Australian crew feature in the race.

Defending champion and three-time winner Andrew Graves, of Gore, will lead the field away from the start at Owaka in his Mitsubishi EVO 3. New Zealand Rally Champion Andrew Hawkeswood, of Auckland, is seeded No2 in his Mazda 2 AP4.

No3 Matt Summerfield, of Christchurch, in his Subaru Impreza WRX was the runner-up in last year's NZ Rally Championship and is fifth in this year's standings and second in the MRF Tyres Mainland Rally Series.

Balclutha's Dean Bond, winner of this event in 2009, 2011 and 2015, is seeded fourth in his Mitsubishi EVO 6.5. Last year's runner-up, Jeff Judd, of Christchurch, is at No5 in his Subaru Impreza WRX followed by last year's fifth placegetter, Carter Strang, of Wallacetown in his EVO 6.

Next up are Cantabrians Garet Thomas (WRX) and David Quantock (EVO 8).

The top 10 is rounded out by two more former winners in 2005 victor Derek Ayson, of Gore, in a Ford Escort MK 2 and Deane Buist, of Christchurch, in a VW Golf GTI MK2.

Just outside the top 10 lurk some very competitive entries - Marcus Van Klink, of Christchurch, in his Mazda RX7 Group B, John Giltrap, of Lincoln, in an EVO 9, Barry Mills, of Balclutha, in his stunningly quick Hillman Avenger, plus 2016 winner Vaughan Edie in an EVO 8.

In addition to a mouth-watering battle for overall honours, the classes also offer intriguing competition while the Southern Challenge will be contested by drivers and co-drivers who have crossed the water to compete.

The winner of the event will receive the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy while the leading South Otago crew earns the Kerry O'Donohue Memorial Trophy and the top Otago Sports Car Club crew the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy.

The rally will begin beside Owaka Motors in Campbell St, Owaka, at 10am.

Competitors face six high-speed special stages over a total of 150km before the event concludes in Owaka shortly before 4pm.

The rally is round six of the MRF Tyres Mainland Rally Championship and part of the Eastern Southland Car Club Rally Championship.

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