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NZ's rally driver rankings rated


NZ's rally driver rankings rated

The recently-formed Grey Roots Group, an Auckland-based rallysport think-tank has released its first lists of the top drivers from the 2006 season.

In what is planned to be an annual event, the collection of current and former rally competitors have pored through stage times and results of the entire year's motor rallies. From this, the fastest drivers in each category have been graded and seeded on their outright pace.

Acting spokesman Rob Scott clarifies how the selections were made.

"We decided right from the start to concentrate solely on out-and-out speed. The rankings are therefore designed not to reflect a driver's tactical 'nous' or their ability to get a car to the finish. We began the task with no preconceptions on who would feature - there's a couple of unfamiliar names that surprised us but generally our national-level competitors have shone."

"It's perhaps gratifying that our very best drivers all appear to be contesting the national championship. But it does beg the question - is it because they naturally gravitate to that elite level of competition here in NZ, or does competing amongst these stars actually teach you to drive faster ?"

The 2006 season lists are as follows:

Top Ten tarmac drivers

1. Joe McAndrew

2. Emma Gilmour

3. Daynom Templeman

4. Clark Proctor

5. Kevin Honnis

6. Charlie Evans

7. Neil Marshall

8. Brent Ingram

9. Christopher Maindonald

10. Jason Gill

Top Ten 2wd gravel drivers

1. Mark Tapper

2. Deane Buist

3. Jeff Judd

4. Kayne Barrie

5. Aaron Cook

6. Dave Strong

7. Tony McConachy

8. Grant Liston

9. James Holder

10. Tony Dixon

with Mike Tubbs, Dave Ayling (tarmac) and Chris Barnett (2wd gravel) on the cusp of selection.

Top Twenty Outright gravel drivers

1. Richard Mason

2. Chris West

3. Sam Murray

4. Andrew Hawkeswood

5. Brett Martin

6. Emma Gilmour

7. Dean Sumner

8. Todd Bawden

9. Glenn Smith

10. Hayden Paddon

11. Dylan Turner

12. Mark Tapper

13. Stewart Taylor

14. Callum McInnes

15. Glen Inkster

16. Clinton Anderson

17. Derek Ayson

18. Regan Ross

19. Robbie Leicester

20. Malcolm Stewart

while unlucky to miss out were Lewis Scott, Brent Taylor and an Impreza-shod Jeff Judd.

The lists generate some interesting discussion points:-

Age and experience still feature strongly in a sport seen often to favour the younger risk-takers; former national title-holders appear on all three lists.

Mark Tapper's feats in the Fiesta were truly astounding when you see how deeply he has encroached on a 4wd-dominated top 20 list.

Another to enjoy the change in wheels was Glen Inkster. His performance in the Kiwi2 class during 2006 was largely forgettable; yet his run in the ex-Hawkeswood Lancer for his maiden win at the Daybreaker propelled him into recognition.

Perhaps the unluckiest not to feature in these inaugural lists was Rangiora's Brad Harris. The seeding committee were unable to obtain stage times from Greymouth's Westland event (the final rally of the year), so Harris' first outright win goes largely unrewarded. Look for his name in the 2007 roster.

"Hopefully, for the 2007 season," adds Scott, " we'd also like to include a top 10 Classic list; perhaps even a Women's list as their numbers seem on the increase. Either way, I know the members of the fledgling Grey Roots Group have enjoyed the experience - I'm confident they'll reconvene for the New Year."

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