It is appropriate that in the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Eastern Southland Car Club it is the Club President Derek Ayson in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 4 who will be the top seed in this Saturday's ESCC 50th Anniversary Gore Rally.
It is appropriate that in the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Eastern Southland Car Club it is the Club President Derek Ayson in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 4 who will be the top seed in this Saturday's ESCC 50th Anniversary Gore Rally. Ayson is the current Mainland Rally Series Champion and made the best possible start to his title defence at the recent Rally Of Southland. Ayson also won the club's major rally - the Catlins Coast Rally last year.
Ayson predicts "a very interesting rally". "It is totally new to almost everyone, and there is no home advantage". Ayson predicts 2nd and 3rd seeds, Deane Buist and Mark McMillan, "will be keeping a fair amount of pressure on". Nicole France will be a new face in the co - drivers seat for Ayson for this event as regular co - driver Andrew Graves is contesting the rally behind the wheel of his own Mitsubishi Lancer EVO. That brings another twist to the event as Graves took maximum drivers points in the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series at the opening round in Otago while Ayson took top points at Southland. They approach the Gore Rally tied in the lead of that series.
While Ayson is the top seed, the remainder of the top ten will present him with a very strong challenge. Second seed Deane Buist is a former Mainland Rally Champion and will be at the wheel of his EVO 6. Invercargill driver Mark McMillan is third seed in his Subaru Impreza WRX. McMillan is a very talented driver who looked to be on course for a win in the 2005 Rally Of Southland before mechanical problems intervened. In this year's Rally Of Southland he crashed out early, so he will be looking to make amends here. The fourth seed is the current N.Z. Rally Xtreme Champion, Paul Nicoll of Nelson, in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 8 followed by young Rangiora driver Brad Harris in another EVO. Harris made a big impression in the Rally Of Southland two month's ago until he was eliminated with mechanical problems.
Regan Ross, 2nd in the Rally Of Southland, is the 6th seed and the top ten is rounded out by Greg Teece, John Giltrap, Graves and Garry Cliff. Outside the top ten lurk prominent names such as Jeff Judd, Paul Dickson and Shaun McMillan.
The rally starts and finishes at the Scenic Circle Croydon Hotel in Gore.
As a tribute to the eight drivers in the field who competed in the original Gore Rally 31 year's ago those drivers will be first to cross the start ramp at 8.15am on Saturday. They will then be the first eight cars through the opening Special Stage in the Pukerau Forest. Prior to Stage 2 they will slot into their seeding order for the rest of the day.
The field aIso contains three Australian based entries plus one North Islander, David Wright of Te Aroha.
The event will be preceded by a Rally Car Show at the Scenic Circle Croydon Hotel in Gore from 3.30pm until 6.00pm on Friday. The cars will be under cover at the venue. Entry is free and this is a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the drivers and check out the cars close up.
Rally maps are available from event sponsors:
The Ensign, Mersey Street
Scenic Circle Croydon Hotel, Main Queenstown Highway
Charlton Auto Imports, Main South Road
Ewan Allan Honda, 25 Ordsal Street
Custom Build Engineering, Waiau Street
Michael Kelly Auto Electrical, 8 Avon Street
Laird Motorsport, 51A Coutts Road
Forest Lodge Hotel, 31 Northumberland Street
Ernslaw 1 Limited, Cemetery Road
ODT 31 Clyde Street
Balclutha Motors, Cnr Elizabeth & James Streets
ODT, 52-66 Stuart Street
McNeill Drilling/Pumping, 27 Onslow Street
Southern Automobiles, 215-221 Dee Street
BNT, 53 Cllyde Street
GWD Russells Ltd, 18-24 Yarrow Street
Southroads, Hunt Street