THE Rankleburn Rally is on again with a field of cars heading to the Rankleburn Forest in West Otago on Saturday, October 10.
Organised by the Eastern Southland Car Club, with support from MLT/Heartland Hotels and Ernslaw One Ltd, the rally was a part of the club’s rally championship and would consist of four Special Stages.
Last year’s winner Carter Strang, of Wallacetown, and co-driver Stewart Robbie, in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6, will return to defend their title in the event they dominated last year, winning all four Special Stages, finishing the event 1 minute 27.5 seconds ahead of runners-up Tony Gosling, of Christchurch, and his co-driver Malcom Read in their Subaru Legacy with another Canterbury entry, David Clearwater/Allister Gibson in their Mitsubishi EVO 4, third.
Strang said: “Going for tow two in a row is the plan. I will go as hard as I can as I want another first-place trophy.”
While he won last year and had two other top three placings at Rankleburn, he also remembered picking up a couple of punctures throughout the years there.
“When you are pushing hard you can go over the edge of the water table and there are some sharp rocks. You need to have a little bit of discipline.”
Strang had done little competitive mileage of late, his last outing being the Circle Hill Rallysprint in July.
“The pace was hot that day. I was on the money but on the ragged edge and had a spin on my final run which dropped me from fourth to eighth.”
Last year’s Rankleburn event drew entries from throughout New Zealand and organisers were hoping for another good turnout this year.
The first two stages would use Manuka Rd, 18.36km of predominantly fast road with a hard gravel base consisting of 85% forestry and 15% public road.
Special Stage 3, Greyburn 3, was a new stage, over 20km, with a similar split of forestry and public road. It would be fast in parts, but would offer some slippery downhill clay patches early in the stage.
The final 19.34km stage, Kennedy was a new stage introduced last year which would be fast in places, and tight and twisty, in others.
Based at Telford Tops Rd, in the Rankleburn Forest, West Otago, (about one hour from Gore and 35 minutes from Balclutha), the event would be signposted from State Highway 1.
Servicing would take place at Telford Tops Rd throughout the day with prizegiving to be held at the Heartland Hotels Croydon on the Main Queenstown Highway.
- Lindsay Beer, on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club