Welsh star to headline 2012 Otago Rally
Former British Rally Champion, Gwyndaf Evans, will be the headline act at this year’s International Classic Rally of Otago, to be held around Dunedin from May 25 to 27.
The 52-year old former school bus driver will drive a locally prepared Ford Escort RS1800 in an event that has previously attracted some of the world’s best rally drivers.
Evans was the British Rally Champion in 1996, and has been one of that
country’s leading rally drivers since the 1980s, driving for the factory
Ford, Seat, MG and Mitsubishi teams.
He has taken several top 10 placings on World Rally Championship events,
and comes to New Zealand determined to follow in the footsteps of the
other rallying greats who have contested the event.
Due to an unavoidable conflict of commitments, the hugely respected
Rossendale Team will not be running the guest driver in 2012. This
falls instead to Christchurch's Bryce Biggs, who provides a high quality
vehicle leasing business, and in fact will be running four
international drivers at the event.
Rally of Otago spokesman, Roger Oakley, said that the Otago Sports Car
Club was thrilled to have secured the talented Welshman for the 2012
“Gwyndaf Evans is a name synonymous with rallying in the UK, and to have
him confirmed for this year’s Otago Rally is very pleasing,” Oakley
“While much of Gwyndaf’s success has come in front-wheel drive rally
cars, he has more recently being driving rear-wheel drive Ford Escorts
in classic events, so he’ll feel right at home in the Bryce
Biggs-prepared Escort in New Zealand.
“He won the famous Roger Albert Clark Rally in the UK last November, so
he’ll be a real threat to the New Zealand and Australia drivers who’ll
be aiming for victory this year.”
Evans’ entry in the event continues a long list of international stars
that have contested the event, including former World Champions Bjorn
Waldegard, Hannu Mikkola, Juha Kankkunen and Ari Vatanen, and fellow WRC
stars Michele Mouton, Russell Brookes, Alex Fiorio and Piero Liatti.
Based out of Dunedin in the South Island, competition will begin on
Friday night, with three stages close to the city, totalling nearly 60
kilometres in length.
The night stages were reintroduced in 2011, with competitors and
spectators enjoying the opportunity to watch some of the best rally
drivers light up the forests.
These stages are different to the ones used in 2011, but will all offer excellent viewing opportunities for spectators.
The rally heads north of Dunedin on Saturday morning for seven gravel
stages, with the day finishing with the tarmac street stage around the
city after over 115 competitive kilometres.
Stages include Shag Valley, a couple of new stages and a return to Waikouaiti, a stage not used in the event for many years.
The final day, Sunday, will provide a real sting in the tail for the
remaining competitors, with a further six stages and over 130km,
including two stages of at least 25km, and a marathon new 45km test
through the Berwick Forest, which will be the penultimate of the rally.