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Bates leads Otago Rally after Paddon crashes

Australian driver, Neal Bates, holds a commanding 46.3 second lead in the Stadium Cars / Ssangyong International Classic Rally of Otago after the first day, after his main rival, Hayden Paddon, crashed out late in the day.

Driving a Ford Escort RS1800, New Zealander Paddon had won the opening
five stages of the event, south west of Dunedin, to open up a handy 30.2
second lead over Bates, while 1984 World Champion, Didier Auriol,
struggled to come to grips with his Escort.

But Paddon, the
Hyundai World Rally Championship driver, rolled his car 5.6 kilometres
into the final gravel stage of the day, and while his car wasn’t badly
damaged, it broke the steering and put him out of the running for
victory, handing last year’s winner a comfortable advantage.

the same Toyota Celica that he drove to victory in 2013, Bates and
co-driver, Coral Taylor, were never far off Paddon’s pace, but their
consistency came to the fore as the Escort driver faltered.

“It’s been a great day,” Bates said after the final tarmac stage around the streets of Dunedin.

car has been fantastic and we were generally only about 0.2 second per
kilometre slower than Hayden, so I’m happy with that.

“I was
quite worried about this morning’s stages because they were fast and
cresty, but our pacenotes worked perfectly and we were able to push

In second place after the opening seven stages is the
exciting Regan Ross in a Ford Escort RS1800, who leads former Otago
Rally winners Marcus van Klink (Mazda RX7) and Derek Ayson (Ford Escort)
in third and fourth places. Dean Buist lies fifth in his Escort.

Auriol, the event’s star international driver, it was a difficult day
on the challenging roads of south Otago, after which he lies in sixth

“I am fighting the car all the time,” the Frenchman said, commenting on the handling of his borrowed Escort.

set-up of the car is not so good for my driving and the roads are
slippery and quite hard for my first time. But we’re pushing hard,” he

Another Australian driver, Jeff David, has his Porsche in
eighth place after struggling with brake problems for the first three
stages, while lady driver, Deborah Kibble, is an impressive ninth in her
Mitsubishi Lancer. Australian Darryn Snooks rolled his Mazda-powered
Toyota Corolla on the fourth stage and is out of the event.

Stadium Cars / Ssangyong International Classic Rally of Otago continues
on Sunday with a further eight special stages south of Dunedin, before
the champagne finish outside the historic Dunedin Railway Station at

To view more photos from Day 1 of the Otago Rally, CLICK HERE to visit our photo gallery on Facebook.

Stadium Cars / Ssangyong International Classic Rally of Otago

Results after Day 1

  1. Neal Bates / Coral Taylor (Australia), Toyota Celica, 1h14m54.5s
  2. Regan Ross / Andrew Graves (NZ), Ford Escort RS1800, +46.3s
  3. Marcus van Klink / Dave Neill (NZ), Mazda RX7, +1m06.6s
  4. Derek Ayson / Lisa Hudson (NZ), Ford Escort, +1m27.9s
  5. Deane Buist / Andrew Bulman (NZ), Ford Escort RS1800, +1m36.3s
  6. Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet (France), Ford Escort RS1800, +2m51.3s

Photos by Peter Whitten.

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