Graves top contender for Rankleburn

Class B contenders Craig Cormack, of Gore, and Paul Clement in their Toyota Levin during last year's Rankleburn Rally. Photo: Ron Veint

GORE driver Andrew Graves, fresh from a win in the recent Lawrence Rally, is the top seed for this Saturday’s Eastern Southland Car Club MLT/Croydon Lodge and Ernslaw One Ltd Rankleburn Rally in the Rankleburn Forest in West Otago.

Graves will be at the wheel of his Mitsubishi EVO 3 while other top runners include David Clearwater, of Christchurch (EVO 4), a top 10 finisher at Lawrence, and James Worker in an EVO 6, which was driven to victory at Rankleburn for the past two years by Carter Strang. This will be Worker’s third event in the car.

Others to watch are Paul Cross, of Gore (Subaru Impreza H6), and Cromwell drivers Ray Casey and Simon Taylor, both at the wheel of Subaru Imprezas.

Steve Thompson, of Mosgiel (Ford Escort MKII), Brendon Mitchell, of Winton (Datsun 1600), and Brett Waddren, of Temuka (Toyota Starlet), will be Class C frontrunners while Class B should see a battle between Craig Cormack, of Gore (Toyota Levin), Thomas Paul, of Cromwell (Honda Civic), Grant Molloy, of Invercargill (Corolla), and Queenstown drivers Adrian Jones (Corolla) and Mauro Balzarini (Toyota Sprinter).

Class A is the domain of Chris Herdman, of Temuka, in his Toyota Starlet.

The rally is part of the club’s rally championship and will comprise four special stages totalling about 80km.

The event, based at Telford Tops Rd in the Rankleburn Forest, West Otago, is about one hour from Gore and 35 minutes from Balclutha and will be signposted from State Hwy 1.

Servicing takes place at Telford Tops Rd with prizegiving at the Croydon Hotel, Gore, after the event.

Special Stage 1, Greyburn 3, over a distance of 20km, is supported by Michael Kelly Auto Electrical Ltd/Yuasa and was new for 2020 while Stage Two, Harrisons Supplies Ltd, Land’s End, is a new stage of 19.97km for 2021.

BNT Automotive Bapcor presents Special Stage 3, Sharps, another new stage for 2021. Those who have seen the 19.83km stage say if you aren’t smiling when you finish it, rallying may not be the sport for you. It starts at the top of John O’Groats (part of this was last used in 2008) then into Sharp Rd with a very readable 5km left into Land’s End Rd, a right just past the Pump Shed and up Telford Tops/Middle Rd then using Saddle Creek, on to a quicker part of Telford Tops for 1.8km to the finish.

The final stage, Russell Keeler Automotive Kennedy, (19.34km) was new to the event in 2019, and saw records set in every class last year.

The best viewing for stages one and two, is at the intersections of Chapman/Middle Rds, Chapman/Manuka Rds and Manuka/Land’s End Rds (also a forestry road) with the roads closed from 10.30am. The first car is due to start the first stage at 11am and the second stage about noon.

The best viewing in Stage Three is from Land’s End Rd/Telford Tops corner, both forestry roads just off Manuka Rd. The first car will enter the stage at 1.15pm.

The winning crew will earn the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy while the first Otago Sports Car Club driver will win the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy. The Mark Parsons Award will see prizes for the first novice driver and first novice co-driver.

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