The love affair continues

| Photographer Credit: Peter Whitten

The Australian love affair with New Zealand’s Otago Rally continues to grow, with top Aussie, Brendan Reeves, confirming his entry into this April’s event.


This will be Reeves’ first time to the event, and he’ll be behind the wheel of Brian Stokes’ Ford Fiesta AP4+.


“Otago has always been a ‘bucket list’ rally for me, so it will be great to finally compete in an event that many people consider to be the best in the southern hemisphere,” Reeves said this week.


Although Reeves has never won the Australian Rally Championship, he’s currently considered by many to be the country’s fastest rally driver, having won several rounds of the national series, both in his home country and in New Zealand.


He’s the latest in a long line of Australian rally stars to have contested the Otago Rally, starting back in the early 2000s when Subaru’s Cody Crocker drove an Impreza WRX.


But it was five-time national champ, Ross Dunkerton, who really put the event on the map, raving about the rally after his first attempt.


He subsequently competed many times thereafter, encouraging a raft of fellow Aussies to make the trek east.


Fellow legends Greg Carr, Geoff Portman, Ed Mulligan and Neal Bates (pictured) have also tried their hand on the cresty Otago Rally stages, with Reeves the latest to join the list.


Add in regulars such as Stewart Reid, Darryn Snooks, Jeff David, Grant Walker and many more, and you can see that it’s become an annual pilgrimage for many.


In return, there’s been only a few Kiwis who have headed west to try their hand at Aussie events in recent times.


Derek Ayson has made two trips to contest Queensland’s Border Ranges Rally, while he and fellow NZ’er, Deane Buist, entered the 2017 Alpine Rally in Escorts, with some success.


Moving forward, it’s clear that the interest in trans-Tasman competition is there. It simply needs a well thought out plan of attack from MSNZ and CAMS to enable more competitors to spread their wings and venture to lands afar.


Working together for the benefit of rallying both countries is surely a step in the right direction – at all levels of the sport.

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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