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Preview: Buist the man to catch in Otago Classic Rally

The absence of international crews at the Otago Rally may have left a void, but that won’t lesson the fight for the Classic Rally.

Deane Buist will start as the favourite in the ENEOS Motor Oil Otago Classic Rally.

Sponsored by ENEOS Motor Oil for the first time, the Otago Classic Rally has previously been won by rally legends such as Mads Ostberg, Markko Martin and Jimmy McRae.

This year it will be the domain of New Zealand’s best, with the addition of ‘celebrity’ driver, Drift champion ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse.

Twenty-eight cars will face the starter at Dunedin’s Octagon on Friday night, with former winner, Deane Buist, starting as the pre-event favourite.

Having sold his Volkswagen Golf GTi, the Christchurch veteran will be at the wheel of a Group B replica Toyota Celica and will be hard to beat.

He’ll be chased hard by a posse for Ford Escort RS1800s driven by Jeff Judd, Shane Murland and Graham Ferguson, all of whom could snatch victory.

Another ‘classic’ driver, John Silcock, will be very fast in his Mazda RX7, as will Escort drivers Andy Martin and Anthony Jones.

Escorts and Toyota Starlets dominate the Classic Rally entry list, but there are plenty of other cars worth watching.

Karl Robinson’s Nissan Bluebird Turbo will be fast, and Otago Rally regulars Deb Kibble (Lancer Turbo), Brendon Mitchell (Datsun 1600), Tony Aimers (Fiat Abarth 131) and Miles McElwain (Toyota Corolla) will be pushing hard for class wins.

Popular Porsche 911 driver, Alan Dippie, is also a late entry and will add plenty of spice to the leaderboard.

The Classics will run in reverse seeding order, with car 28, Paul Kendrick’s Fiat Abarth 131 R, starting first. Top seed, Deane Buist, will be last, before the NZRC field hits the stages.

The Otago Rally begins with the publicity start in the Octagon on Friday night, with two days of stages to follow on Saturday and Sunday.

To follow this weekend’s event, use the following links:

Buist will drive Barry Varcoe’s Group B replica Toyota Celica.
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