Quality field for 2010 Rally of Otago
Eighty-five entries have been received for the 2010 Rally of Otago, which includes the first round of the New Zealand Rally Championship, and the popular Dunlop International Classic Rally.
To be held in and around Dunedin on April 10 and 11, the Rally of Otago boasts some of the biggest names in New Zealand rallying, as well as drivers from Italy and Australia.
“The Rally of Otago has again attracted a top class field of cars and
drivers,” Clerk of Course, Norman Oakley, said.
“The New Zealand Rally Championship field is particularly strong, while
the Classic entry list boasts a good mix of local and international
drivers, including some of the event’s most popular car and driver
In the absence of reigning national champion Hayden Paddon, former
winner Richard Mason will start as the favourite in his Subaru Impreza,
starting from position one.
Andrew Hawkeswood returns to the national championship in his Mitsubishi
Lancer, while Dunedin’s best hope for victory will rest with the
country’s fastest female driver, Emma Gilmour.
Gilmour has regular finished on the podium in her home event, but with
an entry list that includes Geof Argyle, Chris West and Dean Sumner, she
will need to be in top form to get her Subaru clear of her rivals.
The field is dominated by four-wheel drive Subarus and Mitsubishis, with
any one of up to 10 drivers in with a realistic chance of finishing on
The Dunlop International Classic Rally of Otago field is headed by 2009
winner, Derek Ayson, in his Nissan-powered Ford Escort.
Ayson’s biggest threat is likely to come from former Subaru World Rally
Team driver, Piero Liatti, in a Ford Escort RS1800.
The Italian has never driven an Escort before, but his results speak for
themselves, and as the winner of the 1997 Monte Carlo Rally for Subaru,
he’s expected to set the pace.
Kiwis Regan Ross (Escort), Jeff Judd (Vauxhall) and Duncan McCrostie
(Nissan) will be keen to perform well, as will a host of Australian
drivers who are heading across the Tasman for the annual event.
Darryn Snooks (Datsun Stanza) and Keith Callinan (Ford Escort) are
regular Otago competitors, while John Spencer returns to the event for
the first time in five years.
Spencer will drive a powerful Datsun 1600, as will fellow Queenslander
Stewart Reid. Up and coming Victorian driver Mike Conway could also be
one to watch as he makes his Otago Rally debut in an Escort.
The Classic Rally will also see an appearance by Robert Van Gisbergen,
the father of current V8 Supercar driver Shane Van Gisbergen.
Twenty-five cars will also line up for the Allcomers Rally, with the
event likely to see a domination by Mitsubishi’s Lancers.
Dean Bond and Cleve Kokshoorn head the entries, but a real dark horse
could be former Classic Rally winner Deane Buist.
The Christchurch driver will compete in his usual Toyota Corolla KE70,
but having sold the Ford BDA engine from the car, he has installed a
Mitsubishi Evo motor which, despite having only rear-wheel drive, should
make the car a real front runner.
The popular Dunedin-based event, which will run on April 10 and 11, is
once again attracting a strong Australian contingent in the Dunlop
International Classic Rally of Otago, while the Allcomers Rally will
once again be strongly supported.
The Otago Rally route will include some of the event’s most popular
stages, including Kuri Bush, Whare Flat, Waipori Gorge and the tarmac
super special stage around the streets of Dunedin.
For the first time since 2001, the famous Danseys Pass – a classic
sub-Alpine road that was once used in the Rally of New Zealand – will
also be included in the route.
“The rally will be a return to the way things were done years ago, with
no centralised service parks, longer touring stages, and with a real
emphasis on adventure,” Oakley said.
“We’ll return to the Middlemarch area for stages that were used in 2009,
but we’ve also included new stages such as Ritchie Road and Shag Valley
Back Road that have never been used by the event before.”