This year’s Otago Rally, set for April 14 and 15, has attracted a record entry of 99 cars.
April 4, 2007, 12 noon. Reigning champion, Richard Mason, heads a record entry list for Round 1 of the 2007 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship, the Rally of Otago, on April 14 and 15.
The Subaru Impreza WRX STi driver will be challenged by other leading Impreza drivers including Scotsman Alister McRae, Palmerston North’s Sam Murray and Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour.
American Rally Championship and Subaru Rally Team USA driver, Ken Block, will also contest the event, driving an Impreza WRX owned by Sam Murray.
Block (38) will do three events in New Zealand this year, starting with Otago.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evos will be driven by Brett Martin, Dean Sumner and Haydon Paddon.
Former Ralliart NZ driver, Mark Tapper, will start as favourite in the battle to be the first Ford Fiesta ST pilot home.
Tapper will compete against the similar cars of Kayne Barrie, Dermott Malley and Chris Lange.
Ex-World Rally Championship star, Alex Fiorio, heads the field in the Dunlop International Classic Rally which runs as part of the Otago Rally.
The Italian, who finished second in last year’s event, will drive the same left-hand drive Porsche 911 that he used then.
Christchurch’s Deane Buist will campaign the leading Ford Escort RS1800.
Brett Murray will drive the ex-Neil Allport Group B Mazda RX7, and double Australian rally champion, Geoff Portman, will start from position four in a Datsun Stanza.
Forty-two cars have entered the Classic Rally.
In the Rally Xtreme Challenge, Dunedin driver Mike Turfus will pit his Lancer Evo 7 against Jeff Judd’s Impreza WRX and Andrew Hawkeswood’s Evo 6, but others, like Regan Ross and Greg Teece (both in Lancers), will be pushing hard.
Former NZ champion Chris West, always a strong contender in Otago, will have a one-off drive in a Lancer Evo 6.5.
Organisers says they’ve been overwhelmed by the numbers of entries received - a record 99, including 15 from overseas, 12 of them from Australia.
The rally is three events in one – a NZ championship round, a round of the domestic Rally Xtreme series, and the international classic rally.
Photo caption: Haydon Paddon will drive his Lancer Evo in Otago.