Ari taking on the championship one tyre at a time

| Photographer Credit: Geoff Ridder

Rising rally star Ari Pettigrew is taking on the New Zealand Rally Championship one round at a time, and one tyre at a time.

Pettigrew heads into the third round of the New Zealand Rally championship on Saturday in South Canterbury leading both the Junior Championship and the two-wheel-drive title chase in his home-built BMW 318 Ti.

And with a very limited budget, the 22-year-old has launched a campaign for supporters to buy him a tyre, or a set of four. He needs on average 12 tyres to contest each round of the national championship and there are three more rounds to go.

“Tyres are the most expensive cost for us,” said Pettigrew. “The rear tyres only last 40kms of rallying so we’re building up our stocks so that we can stay in the hunt.”

Ari Pettigrew and co-driver Samantha Gray at Rally Whangarei earlier in May

Pettigrew and co-driver Samantha Gray are looking forward to continuing their charge at South Canterbury after winning the first two rounds, but Ari admits beating his arch rival and regular 2WD winner Marcus Van Klink (Mazda RX8) will be a hard task.

“Klinky’s [car] got some real horsepower so he’ll be hard to beat. The roads probably suit his car better but we’ll be pushing hard.”

This season is the first time Pettigrew and Gray have teamed up and the partnership achieved instant results, running inside the top-ten at both Rally Otago and the International Rally of Whangarei – an outstanding achievement in a 2WD car.

“We both started rallying at the same time, 2016, so we’ve learnt together but not rallied together until this year.”

“I have complete confidence in what she’s doing and what she says [calling pacenote instructions]. She’s very calm in the car, no stress.”

For Gray it’s as close to a home rally as it gets. Her parents still live in Timaru and their workshop will come in handy during the weekend.

Pettigrew entered his first South Canterbury Rally last year but only got five kilometres into the event before the ‘engine went pop’.

“This year we’ve had much better reliability with the engine and the general preparation of the car has been much better. It now gets a full strip-down after each rally.”

Working alongside Hayden Paddon at his rally base in Cromwell has helped the young charger. He now prepares his own rally car in the same way Paddon Rallysport prepares Hayden’s and customer cars.

There are ten special stages to the South Canterbury Rally, nine on public roads with the final stage taking in laps of Levels Raceway at Timaru.

Supporters are encouraged to contact Ari via his Facebook page to support his ‘Buy A Tyre’ effort – each tyre costs $250, or text ‘Tyre’ to 020 4158 7435 or message him at

“It’s really rewarding the way people have come forward to support us. Every tyre is one more towards us completing the championship.”

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