Annual rally rankings announced
Photo credit: Jason Byrne

Annual rally rankings announced

By Rob Scott

Rally enthusiasts, the Grey Roots Group, have today released their annual rankings of New Zealand’s fastest rally drivers.

The Group, formed in 2006 from the former Rally Pilots Association seeding committee, have spent the last decade promoting their sport and acknowledging excellence by local competitors. The rankings, now in their 11th year of publication, are determined solely by outright speed after exhaustive analysis of stage times from every event on the domestic rally calendar.

As Group spokesman, Mal Peden explains, the rankings are determined by sheer pace, and deliberately ignore the effect of punctures or mechanical issues. “We know these annual lists are eagerly awaited by our fellow competitors. The judging panel have extensive experience at all levels of the sport, so it’s a real accomplishment to be acknowledged by your peers as an elite performer.”

“The current rally titles reflect who has the best combination of speed, budget, and car preparation. We offer something far more raw – who’s the fastest?”

The 2016 rankings are as follows (with 2014 position in brackets):

Top Ten gravel 2wd drivers
1.  Deane Buist (2)
2.  Regan Ross (7)
3.  Marcus Van Klink (5=)
4.  Robert McCallum (9)
5.  Derek Ayson (4)
6.  Max Bayley (3)
7.  Tony Gosling (10)
8.  Anthony Jones (5=)
9.  Dave Strong
10.  John Silcock
Top Ten tarmac drivers
1.  Glenn Inkster (1)
2.  Neil Marshall
3.  Jason Gill (5)
4.  Chris West (2)
5.  Leigh Hopper (4)
6=  Tony Quinn
6=  Martin Dippie (3)
8.  Clark Proctor
9.  Brent Early
10.  Steven Kirk-Burnnand (7)

Of those on the cusp of selection, Ian Wood just missed out on a slot amongst the 2wd runners, while Regan Ross and Nic de Waal unlucky not to make the tarmacadam top ten.

“These two lists show a consistency year in, year out. We now have a familiar group who dominate most local Targa events, with enviable road-reading skills developed from contesting these blind bitumen rallies. The same can be said of the 2wds – if you can beat a South Island Escort driver, then you’re doing well.”

As in previous years, the Grey Roots Group have earlier acknowledged excellence in the navigators’ seat, with the awarding of the Ballast Trophy to John Kennard, a winner in 2011/2012/2013.   “John was quite clearly our Most Valuable Passenger, both here and in the WRC. There’s a whole new generation of local codrivers intent on emulating his tradecraft and calm demeanour.”

The 2016 season has also seen a new award presented by the Group, for Crash of the Year.

“The inaugural winner is Richard Baddock / Jason Anderson for their aerobatics at Rally Canterbury. They had ample time in mid-air to alter their pace notes. Special mention must also go to Ben Hunt / Tony Rawstorn for their excavations at the APRC round at Whangarei.”

Top Twenty Outright gravel drivers

1.  Hayden Paddon (5)
2.  David Holder (2)
3.  Mike Young
4.  Dylan Turner (13)
5.  Sloan Cox (17=)
6.  Ben Hunt (1)
7.  Matt Summerfield (4)
8.  Emma Gilmour (9=)
9.  Andrew Hawkeswood (8)
10.  Grant Blackberry (6)

11.  Lance Williams (9=)
12.  Glen Inkster (15)
13.  Richard Baddock
14.  Graham Featherstone (16)
15.  Andrew Graves
16.  Phil Campbell (7)
17.  Deane Buist 2wd (17=)
18.  Rhys Gardner
19.  Jonathan Walker
20.  Carl Davies

with Kingsley Jones, Clinton Cunningham and Mike Tall unlucky to miss the top twenty cut-off.

“We feel the sport is on the verge of something special at the moment. With Hayden and John’s exploits overseas, there has never been such public fascination with rallying in general. Next year’s New Zealand Rally Championship looks set to be contested by up to a dozen different marques, with a number of new sponsors showing interest. We’d particularly like to single out Andrew Hawkeswood for creating this interest amongst competitors – if it wasn’t for his vision and commitment then the AP4 concept might’ve fallen flat.”

“Unfortunately, there has been a downside to a stronger NZRC. The two North Island regional series are scraping for events and competitors, while crews need to be aware that the trend towards road damage bonds will become the norm. On the brighter side, the growing number of clubman-level permits shows there is still a clear career path from those looking to advance from hillclimbs and rallysprints.”

“Bring on 2017.”


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