WITHIN an hour of posting this year’s Catlins Coast Rally entry form online, the first entry arrived.
One of New Zealand’s top competitors during the past 30 years, driver Marty Roestenburg, along with co-driver Pat Norris, of Auckland, led the registrations, with their 1300cc Toyota Starlet.
Roestenburg laughed when he found out, “we won’t be fastest on the
road in the Starlet, so we had to be the fastest somewhere”.
“It is in such a wonderful part of the country and I have really missed rallying, so what better excuse do you need,” he said.
The Starlet, owned by co-driver Norris, was the same car the duo took to a New Zealand rally title 32 years ago, in 1988, and sixth overall in the Rally New Zealand the same year.
“We got a FIA B seeding after that, the only 1300cc car to ever achieve it,” Roestenburg said.
After that the Starlet passed through several pairs of hands.
“At one stage the chassis was stolen and stripped, but it has come back to Pat and been re-shelled and put back to its original Group A configuration. It is no hot rod, but it is not over-stressed and it is reliable.
“After driving more powerful cars, such as EVOs people ask what it is like going back to the Starlet, but I don’t see it as going back, it is more about going full circle,” Roestenburg said.
“The car has neat handling, although the straights are longer and the hills steeper than in an EVO,” he said, “but it is fun’’.
“Pat and I started competing together again about 18 months ago.
‘‘I couldn’t say ‘no’ to a mate.
“In the 80s he was a mentor to me and helped me with goal setting and planning,” Roestenburg said.
“I had forgotten how much fun it was to skid around corners and it has been great to catch up with rally whanau and recount the stories of years ago.”
This year’s Catlins Rally was about having fun, he said.
“The aim is to finish the event and not bang us or the car up. We are not coming to win trophies or break records. It is all about having fun.’’
During the years Roestenburg had enjoyed plenty of success – multiple New Zealand hillclimb championships, national autocross titles, a national clubsport title, plus he has rallied in Australia and New Caledonia, and also competed in an Andrew Hawkeswood carbon fibre EVO at the iconic Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado, United States.
“As the New Zealand Hillclimb champion it was mecca. It was the Burt Munro film that inspired me.
“If he could do what he did at 65, I needed to put away my book of excuses.”
He also competed at the Race To The Sky and Ashley Forest Rallysprint on several occasions.
“We had a third and a couple of fourths at Race To The Sky and I had one win in the EVO and one in the H6 twin turbo WRX at Ashley Forest.
“I’ve tried all forms of motorsport, but I loved rallying. It is the most demanding, the most challenging. There are no run-off areas.
“After Pikes Peak we started our family. I tried shooting, diving, deep water fishing, but as good as they were, I could not fill the void.”
- The Catlins Coast Rally will begin on Saturday, August 9, at 10am, near Owaka Motors and will feature about 153km of high-speed special stages at Puaho, Catlins Valley, McNab’s Farm, Tawanui, Cannibal Bay and Romahapa with the first car due at the finish in Owaka at 3.40pm.
— Lindsay Beer is the Catlins Coast Rally publicity officer