Top seed Carter Strang of Wallacetown dominated the Eastern Southland Car Club’s Rankleburn Rally in West Otago on Saturday.
Strang and co-driver Stewart Robbie in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6 won all four Special Stages in the event, extending their lead throughout to finally end the rally 1 minute 27.5 seconds ahead of runners-up Tony Gosling of Christchurch/Malcom Read in their Subaru Legacy.
Gosling had been involved in a good early battle with Invercargill driver Mark McMillan in his similar Legacy but McMillan was out with a mechanical problem after Special Stage 3 leaving Gosling to fend off another Cantabrian, David Clearwater/Allister Gibson in their Mitsubishi EVO 4.
“It was a really good day said Strang at the conclusion of the event. “The roads were better than I thought considering the weather we have had. I had a problem with the car over boosting and we had to run it on low boost but other than that it was all good.”
Twelfth seed David Scoles of Otautau drove well to bring his Toyota Trueno home in fourth place overall and first in Class C along with co-driver Glenn Howden, the duo collecting two top five stage placings. Fellow Class C competitor Steven Thompson of Mosgiel in a MK2 Ford Escort led the class going into the final stage but eventually finished fifth behind Scoles. Jeremy McIlwrick of Winton with brother Dayne alongside in an EVO 4 finished sixth overall and won Class D.
The top ten was rounded out by Mark Parsons of Auckland (Subaru Impreza H6), Murray Marshall of Kaitangata in an Impreza, Class B winners Richie/Rachel Chadwick of Dunedin in a Toyota Levin in ninth and Neville Krammer of Wallacetown in a Subaru Leone RX Coupe.
Scott/Tim Ashton in a Datsun 1200 repeated their Class A victory of last year in their Datsun 1200 in seventeenth overall.
Harri Judd of Christchurch co-driven by his father Jeff Judd set consistent times throughout the day in his rally debut while at the other end of the spectrum Nigel King of Rakahouka in Southland driving in his first rally in eighteen years finished twentieth in his Toyota Starlet.
Amy Keighley of Auckland retired in the first stage after going off the road in her Subaru Impreza H6 resuming later in the day. Damian Vincent of Gore was out soon after with a gearbox problem. Ray King of Rakahouka retired with a mechanical problem after Stage 1 and rejoined later, only to pull out for good later in the rally. McMillan was out in Stage 3 and Glenn Frew of Outram retired after Stage 3 with accident damage.
Roger Laird of the Eastern Southland Car Club said, “all the drivers handled the changeable weather and road conditions extremely well particularly as some parts of the event were quite slippery and comments about the event were very positive.” Laird also thanked all those who supported and assisted with the event.
The event, organised by the Eastern Southland Car Club, was supported once again by MLT / Heartland Hotels and Ernslaw One Limited.