Escort driver takes maiden Otago Classic Rally victory
Regan Ross has taken outright honours in this year’s International Otago Classic Rally, showing his class to take a commanding victory.
Ross, and co-driver, Samantha Gray, led after Saturday’s stages, and improved their lead throughout the day’s early tests, before consolidating to end comfortable victors.
This was Ross’ first win, and his one minute and 41 second triumph is just reward after years of incredible Otago pace behind the wheel of his Ford Escort RS1800.
International star, Mads Ostberg encountered a suspension problem, forcing him to make some remarkable stage-side repairs.
The team were forced to repair the broken suspension with the help of a metal stake and a farmer’s welder.
“A suspension arm snapped and we had to weld it back together,” Ostberg said.
“In the stage we managed to find a farmer with a small welder. The team welded a piece of steel on to the arm and fitted it back together.”
He remarkably returned to win each of the final four stages, in a frustrating case of what might have been.
Deane Buist managed to hold onto his second position, despite only having one top three stage time for the day.
The VW Golf driver will be incredibly happy with the result as he develops the new car ahead of future outings.
Rangiora’s John Silcock finished in third place in his Mazda RX7, and took a stage win on Sunday’s third stage, Ritchie Road.
Following Buist and Silcock was a plethora of Escorts.
Jeff Judd had a clean run throughout Sunday’s stages, wowing the crowd on his way to an impressive fourth position.
The Christchurch driver set several top five stage times, maintaining his overnight position of fourth.
Australian based drivers, Stewart Reid and Grant Walker, completed the top six in their Escorts.
Both showed their consistency throughout the weekend, each being rewarded with their best Otago Rally results.
Graham Ferguson and Peter Scharmach completed the Ford Escort’s stranglehold on positions four to eight, finishing in seventh and eighth respectively.
The Mazda RX3 of Andy Martin placed ninth, whilst the Porsche 911 RS of Allan Dippie rounded out the top 10.
In the New Zealand Rally Championship section, WRC driver, Hayden Paddon, won every stage to finish a staggering eight and a half minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Subaru’s Ben Hunt.
It was heartbreak, however, for local Emma Gilmour. She and Australian co-driver, Anthony McLoughlin, suffered a puncture in the rally’s final test, dropping them to 20th position. This promoted Mitsubishi AP4 driver Matt Summerfield to third.
The 2018 Otago Rally receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust.The 2018 Otago Rally receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust.
International Otago Classic Rally – final results
1. Regan Ross / Samantha Gray, Ford Escort RS1800, 2h39m9.5s
2. Deane Buist / Karl Celeste, Volkswagen Golf GTi, +1m41.0s
3. John Silcock / Grant Marra, Mazda RX7, +2m28s
4. Jeff Judd / Dominic Adams, Ford Escort RS2000, +2m51.4s
5. Stewart Reid / Jon Mortimer, Ford Escort RS1800, +6m38.7s
6. Grant Walker / Steph Richards, Ford Escort RS1800, +9m04.7s
7. Graham Ferguson / Ross Moody, Ford Escort RS1800, +9m58.2s
8. Peter Scharmach / Dennis Zenz, Ford Escort RS2000, +10m40.4s
9. Andy Martin / Matt Hayward, Mazda RX3, +14m47.9s
10. Allan Dippie / Paul Coghill, Porsche 911 RS, +15m10.6s