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Hagstrom blitzes field to win Otago Classic Rally

Glenn BuistFinland’s Pasi Hagstrom has dominated the 2008 Dunlop International
Classic Rally of Otago, winning all but two of the stages and taking
victory by over three and a half minutes.

Hagstrom, with co-driver Ian McKee, blitzed the field in their Porsche 911 RS and were never in danger throughout the two day event.

Pasi Hagstrom heads for victory in the Otago Rally.Pasi Hagstrom heads for victory in the Otago Rally.In wet and slippery conditions, the Finn became more and more confident with the handling and performance of the Porsche as the event wore on, and 2007 winner, Deane Buist, was never a threat.

A rear punctured on the longest stage of the event, the 51km Duns stage, cost Buist over a minute and a half, but he was still able to salvage second place in his BDA-powered Toyota Corolla.

Richard Kelsey, driving a Mazda RX7, had been third at the start of the second day, but crashed heavily on the opening stage of the day. He and co-driver, Rob Scott, were taken to hospital for observation after the accident, and the stage was subsequently stopped.

This elevated the Group B Mazda RX7 of ‘Bert’ Murray and Stu Jenkinson into third place, a position they held on to until the end of the event, despite strong pressure from the Ford Escort RS1800 of Robert McCullum and Peter Kennard.

Balclutha’s Duncan McCrostie and Murray Marshall rounded out the top five in their Nissan Bluebird Turbo, just clear of Regan and Nigel Ross in their Escort.

Michael Boaden, with sister Helen Cheers calling the pacenotes, finished seventh and as the top Australians in the event in a 2-litre Escort. They led home Rob Wylie (Nissan 240RS), Andy Ruddenklau (Ford Escort) and Glenn Buist (Ford Escort).

Bert Murray was third in his Gp B Mazda RX7.Bert Murray was third in his Gp B Mazda RX7.Michele Mouton had a better day, moving up to 12th place in her Escort RS1800, and continued to win fans over with her driving and her friendly manner.

Major retirements on day two included Derek Ayson (Ford Escort), Euan Fuge (Mazda RX3) and Australian Darryn Snooks, who put his Datsun Stanza off the road late in the event.

Provisional Results:

1.    Pasi Hagstrom / Ian McKee, Porsche 911 RS, 2h33m40.8s
2.    Deane Buist / James Bracefield, Toyota Corolla RS1800, +3m39.6s
3.    Robert Murray / Stu Jenkenson, Mazda RX7, +4m51.3s
4.    Robert McCullum / Peter Kennard, Ford Escort RS1800, +5m02.3s
5.    Duncan McCrostie / Murray Marshall, Nissan Bluebird Turbo, +5m30.6s
6.    Regan Ross / Nigel Ross, Ford Escort RSFJ, +8m56.1s
7.    Michael Boaden / Helen Cheers, Ford Escort, +9m05.9s
8.    Rob Wylie / Paul Turner, Nissan 240RS, +10m11.6s
9.    Andy Ruddenklau / Maree McFarlane, Ford Escort, +11m24.2s
10.    Glenn Buist / Darren Galbraith, Ford Escort RS1800, +11m58.9s

Michael Boaden was the first Australian in 7th place.Michael Boaden was the first Australian in 7th place.

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