HE may have celebrated 40 years of rally competition in 2017, but Dave Jenkins, of Gropers Bush near Riverton, is not slowing down.
Jenkins will contest the Catlins Coast Rally for the first time since 2015 when it begins on Saturday, August 10, and he will do so on the back of having won his first championship – the Eastern Southland Car Club Championship in the 2017/2018 season.
For the past three years at Catlins, Jenkins has been in the Zero Car, the lead car which lets spectators know the field is on its way and also to alert organisers of any problems on the stage.
Jenkins drove the Zero Car in 2016 and 2017 while his son-in-law, Sam Henderson, a well-known driver in his own right, took the wheel last year while Jenkins, known to all in the rally fraternity as ‘Farmer’, sat alongside.
Jenkins has also completed several years of Zero Car duty at the Rally Of Southland previously.
It will be Henderson sitting alongside Jenkins in the co-driver seat of Jenkins’ Subaru Legacy RS when they take on Catlins next month.
Henderson’s presence continues a family tradition as his wife and Jenkins’ daughter, Brodie, was Jenkins’ co-driver for many years since the age of 13 – a partnership Jenkins regards as a highlight of his career.
Jenkins’ wife, Gaye, also completed a few events with him in the early 1980s.
Jenkins has done little rallying of late – the Lawrence Rally last year being an exception, but he has done a lot of club-type events, which is what led to his Club Championship win last season.
It was the first time he had chased a championship and by entering every event and finishing reasonably well in every one he accumulated enough points to take the title.
“It was a real thrill to win, I’ve never really gone for a championship before,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins’ first rally was the Eastern Southland Car Club’s 1977 Gore Rally in which he drove a Datsun 1600.
The mid-1980s were a particularly successful time for Jenkins, winning two or three Claytons Rallies and finishing in the top 10 of the Rally Of Southland when it was part of the National Championship. He won a Gore Club Rally in about 1987 or 88 and did well in the Wyndham Rally, too.
One year he came so close to winning. After losing time in the first stage he then won every other stage but missed the victory due to the time lost early on.
This year’s Catlins Coast Rally is the fifth and final round of the Mainland Rally Championship and part of the Eastern Southland Car Club Rally Championship.
– Lindsay Beer, on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club