Buist leads Judd in ding dong Classic battle
Deane Buist has taken no time to settle in to his new classic rally car at the Otago Rally and leads at the overnight break.
The Toyota Celica Group B replica is new to him and he’s had to adjust his driving style to suit the turbo-charged machine, but by looking at the times, you wouldn’t know.
Buist is a multiple Otago Classic Rally winner and is fast on these roads despite, the conditions being unusually dry and dusty.
Jeff Judd enjoyed a strong day in his Ford Escort and had taken stage wins off Buist, but in the mammoth final stage, his gap to the leader was 24.1 seconds.
At the completion of Saturday’s stages, the gap between the two is just 30 seconds, setting up a mouth-watering final day of action.
Any small issues, like a spin or puncture, could change the top of the leaderboard.
Sitting pretty in third and fourth place are John Silcock (Mazda RX7) and Shane Murland (Ford Escort) who have been trading stage times all day.
In fact, just three seconds separated the pair on the final Nenthorn stage, meaning a small 14.1 second margin at the end of day one.
Fifth place is held by Deb Kibble and her Mitsubishi EX Lancer, is driving well above her pre-event seeding position of 14th.
She and co-driver, Heather Barton, have space either side of them and should be looking to consolidate their position for the Sunday stages.
In sixth position is Jonty Brenssell’s Toyota Starlet, which lost time in the final stage, and the Ford Escorts of Tim McIver, Anthony Jones and ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse are seventh, eighth and ninth.
A champion drifter, ‘Fanga’ Dan has been consistent all day in his Otago Rally debut.
Tenth is the Porsche 911 Carrera RS of Allan Dippie.
In the classic 4WD category, Sean Haggarty started well and was the clear leader of the field before he went off the road and bent the steering of his Subaru.
Haggarty’s retirement means that Nick Marston’s H6 Subaru now leads at the overnight stop.
His lead over Steve Cox is almost four minutes, while third-placed Chris Lockyear is another four minutes back.
Olympic Gold Medallist, Hamish Bond, was going along well in his Subaru until gearbox issues forced him to retire on the fourth stage.
After the fix was made to his car, Bond returned for the final two stages of the day and will continue his rallying debut on Sunday.
The second day of the Otago Rally will feature eight stages, with a competitive distance of 133km, starting at 7.30am. The itinerary includes some of the sport’s most famous stages, including Waipori Gorge, Whare Flat and Kuri Bush.