This week we look back to 2010 and the tenth anniversary of the Catlins Coast Rally.
Defending champion Dean Bond and co-driver Craig Barclay went into the 2010 event as top seeds in their Mitsubishi EVO 6.5 looking for a second consecutive win. Second seed was Kaikoura’s Regan Ross in a EVO 9 with Christchurch’s Jeff Judd third on the road in his Subaru Impreza WRX. Two local drivers, and good mates, Andrew Graves of Gore and Derek Ayson of Clinton lined up as fourth and fifth seeds, quite appropriate considering they finished fifth and sixth respectively in 2009, just two seconds apart.
The rally winner would take home the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy while the first South Otago driver won the coveted Kerry O’Donohue Memorial Trophy and the top Otago crew the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy.
Here’s Lindsay Beer’s rally review….
Graves wins Catlins Rally
Gore driver Andrew Graves was winner of the 2010 Catlins Coast Rally when it was held on Saturday. In doing so he became the only person to win the event as both a driver and a co-driver. In 2005 he was in the co-drivers seat when good friend Derek Ayson took the victory.
Graves was stoked, describing it as his “best win ever.” “I’m absolutely chuffed. It’s an old car but this is a well deserved result for the whole team. Lindsay Tressler spent the last two weeks preparing the car and it ran faultlessly.
It was very frosty in Special Stage 2 and in the fourth stage we lost the back shock absorber so for the last few stages we had no shock. That made the car a bit indecisive!” However there would be no stopping Graves as he won the event from fellow Gore driver Paul Cross and co-driver Michael Kelly with Steve Wellington and Hudson Biggs of Dunedin third.
Graves and co-driver Jared Leebody took lead after Special Stage 3 in their Mitsubishi EVO 3. Graves won that third stage in Catlins Valley and then took three of the remaining five stages to lead Cross home by 18 seconds.
Cross had set the quickest time in the opening stage in the Mitsubishi EVO 8 he leased for the event to take the early lead. Kaikoura driver Regan Ross then moved into the lead after the second stage.
However Ross succumbed to engine problems in Stage 3 joining the other top seeds, Dean Bond and Jeff Judd in retirement.
Bond, the defending champion, was out very early when his gearbox expired in the first stage while third seed Judd blew a turbo one stage later. When Ross pulled out soon after the top three seeds were out of the event before the halfway mark.
That left Graves and Cross to battle it out but Graves was not to be denied after a fine drive in a car that was old enough to qualify to contest the pre-1996 4-wheel-drive class.
Cross had only done the deal to lease the EVO 8 off Cromwell driver Paul Beattie a week before the rally. His first drive of the car in anger was in the opening Special Stage which he won. He added two more stage victories later in the day.
“I sold my own car six weeks ago but I really wanted to do the Catlins Rally as it was the tenth year. I noticed Paul Beattie wasn’t on the entry list. I’m grateful to Paul (Beattie). It was a very easy car to drive.”
Third placed Steve Wellington of Dunedin in a Mitsubishi EVO 6 RS, headed off Oamaru driver Scott Simpson in an EVO 4 by just 1.9 seconds. Clinton driver Derek Ayson in his Nissan powered Ford Escort was fifth and the first two-wheel-drive car home while John Giltrap of Lincoln was sixth in his Subaru Impreza WRX.
Invercargill driver Neville Krammer did a fine job in his Subaru Legacy to finish seventh while Blenheim drivers Jim Vause and Richard Bateman plus Gore driver Craig Abernethy completed the top ten.
Barry Mills of Balclutha produced another great drive in his Hillman Avenger to place eleventh while Canterburys Marcus Van Klink was another notable performer on the day. Van Klink was well inside the top ten in his smartly driven Toyota Corolla only to lose time over the final two stages due to a gearbox problem that dropped him to 15th place.
Graves was presented with the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy for winning the event while he and Leebody took maximum points in the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series drivers and co-drivers sections. Mills and co-driver Mark Allington won the Kerry O’Donoghue Memorial Trophy for being the first South Otago crew to finish while Steve Wellington and Hudson Biggs won the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy for the first Otago crew home.
The Monit Rally Computer prizes for the novice crews went to Dave Holder for drivers and Hannah Irvine – the co-driver for Neville Krammer.
Fifty of the sixty starters finished the rally.
Other major retirements were Duncan McCrostie of Kaitangata who left the road in the first stage, Mike Wellington of Dunedin who hit a post which subsequently damaged his windscreen in the second stage and Paul Dickson of Timaru who lost oil pressure in the second stage. Others who failed to finish were Nigel Marshall of Wyndham. Roger McKay of Winton, Invercargill driver Richard Clapperton and Paul Gouman of Clydevale.
The Rosebank Lodge in Balclutha, MWH, Southroads, Owaka Motors, the Clutha Licensing Trust and Century Batteries were again the major supporters of the rally, the tenth anniversary of the event.
In recognition of their support for every one of those ten years MWH, Owaka Motors, Southroads, Barclay Auto Electrical, the Rosebank Lodge and the Clutha Licensing Trust were acknowledged during the prizegiving. Derek Ayson, Andrew Graves, Barry Mills and Mark Allington were also acknowledged for contesting all ten events to date. Ayson and Graves have finished the rally on every occasion.
The rally was Round 3 of the Mainland Rally Series and Round 2 of the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series which is fought out by drivers and co-drivers with a residential address in Southland, Eastern Southland or Otago.