Pettigrew takes Catlins Rallysprint by a whisker

| Photographer Credit: Becky Ladbrook - Fast Exposure

Cromwell based driver, Ari Pettigrew, in a borrowed 4-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Pronto, has won the Eastern Southland Car Club’s Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint by the barest of margins on Saturday. Pettigrew set a time on his last run of the day which allowed him to pip Andrew Graves of Gore in a Mitsubishi EVO 3 by .32 of a second. The club held a rallysprint this year in place of their annual rally and the competition was intense.

Competitors had three runs at an 8.5km piece of road to set their best time in Leg 1 before tackling an 8.3km stretch, essentially Leg 1 in the reverse direction, three times to set their best times in Leg 2. Each competitor’s best time from each Leg was added to give them their final placing in the event.

Graves had set the fastest time of 4 minute 19.07 on Leg 1 giving him a margin of 2.61 seconds over Pettigrew to that point but Pettigrew, the Open 2-wheel-drive National Champion, at the wheel of a car owned and also driven by David Kirk of Gore sealed the win on the final run of Leg 2 with a scorching time of 4 minutes 28.78 seconds which eclipsed Graves best by 2.93 seconds giving Pettigrew the victory by .32 of a second.

Pettigrew was “over the moon” to eclipse Graves. “I built confidence in the car during the day and then it all seemed to click.” Graves was full of praise for Pettigrew’s effort. “Ari was outstanding in a borrowed car,” he said. “It was an absolutely huge day. The weather was terrible and the road very slippery in places. There would be sun and then it was teeming with rain. A dry run was a bonus but there weren’t many of those.” Graves also acknowledged his new co-driver Marshall Sayer. “He did an outstanding job and enjoyed himself”.

Dean Bond of Balclutha in an EVO 6.5 was third, just a shade over 7 seconds off the winning time after briefly holding the lead during Leg 1 while John Spencer of Dunedin (EVO 7 RS) and Mark McMillan of Invercargill in a Subaru Legacy RS were fourth and fifth respectively.

Spencer, McMillan and Ray Casey of Cromwell (Nissan Pulsar GTiR) were the top three in Class D while Winton driver Brendon Mitchell (Datsun 1600) took Class C honours from Barry Mills of Balclutha (Hillman Avenger) and Sean Sands of Springston in a Ford Escort MK2. Victory in Class B went to Ian Warren of Dunedin in his Nissan Pulsar VZR with Jake Thomas of Mosgiel (Toyota Levin AE86) second and Craig Cormack of Gore (Toyota Corolla AE86) third. Hamish Roche of Dunedin had Class A all to himself in his Suzuki Swift GTi.

Casualties included Craig Barclay of Balclutha who had a flywheel problem in his Ford Escort, Richie Chadwick of Dunedin who lost ignition spark in his Toyota Corolla GT and Isabella Magee of Dunedin with a driveline problem in her Honda CRX. Nigel Ede of Queenstown was the day’s unluckiest competitor when a gearbox problem before the first timed run forced him out of the event.

Rally Chairman Roger Laird said, “Kudos to David Kirk for inviting Ari to drive his car. Ari eased into the day and put it all into the last run where he was almost 3 seconds quicker than Andrew. Ari and Andrew both drove well and Ari confirmed he is a rising star.”

Laird also paid tribute to the marshalls, “It was a windy day with squally showers and our team was awesome in trying conditions.”

The Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint was supported by the Clutha Licensing Trust and the Clutha District Council while the club appreciates the support of landowners in the area.

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