DEFENDING champion Carter Strang, of Wallacetown, and co-driver Stewart Robbie lead the seedings for the MLT/Heartland Hotels Ernslaw One Ltd Rankleburn Rally 2020 this Saturday.
The duo dominated last year’s event and are favourites again this year.
Invercargill driver Mark McMillan will be the second seed in his Subaru Legacy RS. McMillan, a very competitive driver in a Subaru Impreza WRX some years ago, has returned in recent
years in a Subaru Legacy RS with a livery which pays tribute to the late Colin McRae, the 1995 World Rally champion. Regular co-driver Murray Wright will sit alongside McMillan in the event.
Jeremy McIlwrick, of Winton, with Bradley Dawson in the co-driver’s seat, is the third seed in his Mitsubishi EVO 4. McIlwrick was sixth in the event last year.
Fourth seed, Australian driver John Spencer, now living in Dunedin, has fashioned an outstanding record in a variety of cars on both sides of the Tasman. This year he is at the wheel of an EVO 7.
Regan Ross, of Kaikoura, is seeded at five in his Ford Escort MK2. Third in the recent Catlins Coast Rally in a Ford Fiesta R5, Ross returns south with the Ford Escort that he drove to sixth overall and first two-wheel-drive home in the 2019 Catlins Rally.
Richie and Rachel Chadwick, of Dunedin, are at six with their Toyota Levin. Winners of Class B at this event for the past two years and in the Catlins Rally in August, the duo should have a great duel in this year’s rally with fellow Class B competitor, 10th seed Dean
Johnston, of Christchurch, in his Toyota Starlet.
Seventh seed, Neville Krammer, of Wallacetown, has scored several top three finishes at Rankleburn and will pilot a Subaru Impreza H6 with wife Hannah in the co-driver seat. Also in Subaru H6 cars are Mark Parsons, of Drury near Auckland, and Gore driver Paul Cross.
The rally is part of the club’s rally championship and will consist of four Special Stages.
The event will be based at Telford Tops Rd in the Rankleburn Forest, West Otago, off River Rd/Deviation Rd Waipahi — West Otago Rd and Young Rd from the south, about one hour from Gore.
From the north, cross the Clutha River at Clydevale and head towards Beaumont. Turn left on to Pannets Rd and continue on to Chapman Rd through forestry. Turn up Telford Tops Rd where the club will have a “motorsport’’ sign. The venue is 35 minutes from Balclutha and will be signposted from State Highway 1.
The prizegiving would be held at Gore’s Heartland Hotel Croydon on the Main Queenstown Highway, where bistro meals will be available.
The first two stages use Manuka Rd, 18.36 kilometres of predominantly fast road with a hard gravel base consisting of 85% forestry and 15% public road.
Special Stage 3, Greyburn 3, is a new stage this year over 20 kilometres with a similar split of forestry and public road. It is fast in parts but it will offer some slippery downhill clay patches early in the stage.
The final stage, Kennedy, over 19.34km, was a new stage introduced last year which is fast in places and tight and twisty in others.
— Lindsay Beer, on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club