CARTER Strang, of Wallacetown, took his second successive victory in the Eastern Southland Car Club’s MLT/Heartland Hotels Ernslaw One Ltd Rankleburn Rally in West Otago last Saturday.
Strang, the defending champion and top seed, along with co-driver Stewart Robbie, won all four special stages in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6.
They increased their lead to win the event, 2 minutes 42.8 seconds ahead of Mark McMillan and Murray Wright, of Invercargill, in a Subaru Legacy RS, with Wallacetown driver, Neville Krammer, third in a Subaru Legacy after a superb drive.
“It was a great day, everything went to plan,” Strang said at the finish.
“I had intended to put my head down from the first stage and get a lead and we carried the momentum on for the rest of the day.”
Strang also paid tribute to the club, saying “the event ran like clockwork, it was well organised and the roads were in good nick’’.
However, his only issue was a clutch problem 5km from the finish, he said.
McMillan, who has recently returned to rallying after a long break, took a conservative approach to the event to achieve his goal of ensuring a finish.
“The last few rallies we have done we have not finished so we were conservative. We had no issues at all.
‘‘We have got the car pretty right and I am more confident with it.”
McMillan was in the top three in every stage apart from the final one in which he was fourth.
Krammer, with wife Hannah in the co-driver’s seat, worked his way up the order in his Subaru, lying fifth after the opening stage and finishing third ahead of Drury driver Mark Parsons in a Subaru Impreza H6, with Jeremy McIlwrick, of Winton, (EVO 4) just .5 of a second behind.
Simon Taylor, of Cromwell, (Impreza) was next in an impressive rally debut ahead of Stephen Gill, of Winton, in a Ford Escort MK2 in seventh, the first two-wheel-drive car home.
Ray Casey, of Cromwell, (Nissan Pulsar) and Nigel King, of Rakahouka, having his first drive in a four-wheel-drive car — a Mitsubishi EVO 1 — and Ian Warren, of Dunedin, in a Nissan Pulsar, rounded out the top 10 with Gill, Casey and King finishing within a few seconds of each other.
Parsons took the Class D four-wheel-drive class, Gill, Class C for two-wheel-drive cars of 1601cc and over, Warren, Class B for two-wheel-drive cars of 1301-1600cc and Harri Judd, of Christchurch, Class A for two-wheel-drive cars of 0-1300cc, 12 months on from his rally debut at this event.
Early casualties in the first stage included Regan Ross, of Kaikoura, Richie Chadwick, of Dunedin, and Dean Johnston, of Christchurch. Several drivers returned to action later in the day with both Ross and Chadwick setting top 10 times.
Other retirements included Australian John Spencer, of Dunedin, who set the second-fastest time in the opening stage only to retire due to overheating; Paul Cross, of Gore, who had been in sixth; Paul Fraser, of Auckland; Sean Sands, of Christchurch, and Raimon Wilkinson, of Invercargill.
Roger Laird, of the Eastern Southland Car Club, said, “We owe a huge thank you to the whole team who put this event together plus we are grateful for the support of our many sponsors and supporters.”