Competitive field for Catlins sprint

Father and son combination Andy and Jordyn Whyte, of Invercargill, compete in the Catlins Coast Rally last year in their Mitsubishi Mirage. Andy will tackle the Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint this Saturday. Photo: Ben Wilson

A COMPETITIVE field will line up for the Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint on Saturday.

Hosted by the Eastern Southland Car Club, the event is being held in place of the Catlins Coast Rally, which is taking a break after a successful 20th edition of the rally last year.

Four-time Catlins Coast Rally winner Andrew Graves will lead the way in his Mitsubishi EVO 3, while his chief opposition will come from a variety of drivers.

Balclutha driver Dean Bond in his EVO 6, himself a three-time Catlins rally winner, will be strong as will Mark McMillan, of Invercargill (Subaru Legacy). McMillan finished second in last year’s Rankleburn Rally after a long absence from the sport.

Jeremy McIlwrick, of Winton, in an EVO 4, John Spencer, of Dunedin, in an EVO 7, Neville Krammer, of Wallacetown, in a Subaru Legacy H6, the third placegetter at Rankleburn last year, and Simon Taylor, of Cromwell, who excelled at Rankleburn on debut last year in his Subaru Impreza WRX, will also be prominent.

Each of those contenders will contest Class D for 4-wheel-drive cars.

Brendon Mitchell, of Winton (Datsun 1600), Barry Mills, of Balclutha, in a Hillman Avenger, and Craig Barclay, of Balclutha (Ford Escort MK2) are the major players in Class C. Mitchell was the Class C winner at the club’s recent Mt Misery Hillclimb.

The Class B honours will be hard fought with Gore’s Craig Cormack (Toyota Corolla), Sean Sands, of Springston (Ford Escort MK2), and Ian Warren, of Dunedin (Nissan Pulsar VZR), among the potential frontrunners. Hamish Roche, of Dunedin, has Class A all to himself at the moment in his Suzuki Swift GTi.

The youngest competitor in the event will be 15-year-old Isabella Magee, of Dunedin, in her Honda CRX. Isabella does not yet have a drivers’ licence but has been doing sprints with her father Gary sitting alongside her and getting faster with every event.

The event will use some of the great roads previously used for the Catlins Coast Rally, forming a loop of about 8.5km. Competitors will fight it out over three runs in each direction, with the fastest time in each direction added to determine the result. The pit area for the event will be on Puerua Church Rd, off Romahapa Rd.

The Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint is supported by the Clutha Licensing Trust and the Clutha District Council while the club appreciates the support of landowners in the area.

The action starts at 11am and the best spectator viewing is off Waitepeka School Rd and adjacent to the Green Park Camp.

Prizegiving will take place at the Rosebank Lodge in Balclutha after the event.

The South Otago Car Club will run its Catlins Inn Rallysprint on Sunday.

  • Lindsay Beer, on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club