Van Klink takes on classics at Otago

| Photographer Credit: Geoff Ridder

Kaiapoi’s Marcus van Klink returns to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally championship for another campaign in 2016, starting off with the Stadium Cars Otago Classic Rally.

The three time national historic rally champion will once again start the season in his Chesters Plumbing supplies Mazda RX-7 Group B replica, before a modern and more powerful Mazda RX-8 will be debuted later in the season.

Since his victory in the Otago Classic win in 2012, van Klink suffered a troubled run where driveline failure caused retirement in 2013, then an off-road excursion dropped him to sixth in 2014. But a return to form for 2015 saw van Klink and co-driver Dave Neill take the runner up spot between World Rally Championship stars Hayden Paddon and Alister McRae.

The season opening Otago Classic is the largest event of its type in the southern hemisphere and despite being seeded second, van Klink acknowledges that any one of the top five or six seeds could take victory given a clean run, including former WRC rally winner and top seed Markko Martin.

“It’s going to be a huge battle at Otago. Obviously Markko Martin will be quick, although he is fairly new to classic rallying. But outside of him, Regan Ross, Derek Ayson, Jeff Judd and Brian Stokes will all be quick in their Escorts. We’ll be out to uphold rotary honours, but it won’t be easy,” says van Klink.

After a ceremonial start in Dunedin’s Octagon on Friday night, Saturday 9 April sees teams head as far north as Oamaru before returning south via the infamous Dansey’s Pass to the traditional tarmac super special in Dunedin to finish the opening day. The following day sees a further nine special stages to the west of Dunedin before the finish, held at the railway station, from 3.25pm.

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