Round 4, Catlins Coast Rally 2014
Richard Baddock has won the 2014 Clearwater Painting Renovating & Decorating Mainland Rally Series with 1 round to spare. Even though local Rhys Gardner was the dominate driver on the day winning 6 of the 8 stages in his Mitsubishi Evo, Baddock managed to secure enough points to put the championship out of reach with his solid 2nd place finish. Rounding off the top 3 was Deane Buist in his 2wd Ford Escort doing a great job to beat some of the 4wd Drivers.
Gardner took the early lead over Baddock in special stage 1 followed by another local Derek Ayson showing he would be one to keep the 4wd drivers honest. With there being snow on the speical stages just days before the rally it was always going to make for an interesting day, and it wasn’t long until slippery conditions took its first mainland rally competitor, David Clearwater who was hoping for a good result ending his rally upside down on special stage 2, unfortunately Jeff Judd had engine issues on the same stage that wouldn’t see him go any further. Regan Ross was on fine form in stage 2 though taking the stage win and moving him into 3rd overall in his 2wd Ford Escort. Ayson unfortunately also had engine issues in stage 3 and had to retire, this meant the battle for 3rd overall would be between Buist, Ross and Marcus Van Klink.
By special stage 5 Gardner was a minute ahead of Baddock but Van Klink was pushing hard to try catch Buist, managing to take over half a minute out of Buist on this stage, but unfortunately for Van Klink it was only short lived as he ended up off the road in stage 6. This left Buist with a half a minute lead over Ross going into the penultimate 48km special stage 7. Buist managed to hold onto 3rd overall and Carter Strang, another local, managed to pass Ross in the overall placings and secure 4th for the event.
In Class A (0-1300cc) Brendon Fisher in his Toyota Starlet took home 1st place to give him a handy lead in the championship. In Class C (1601- +cc) Tony Gosling in his Ford Escort came home in 1st place followed by James Worker and co-driver Tasha Oakden in 2nd place, moving James into 2nd equal in the drivers’ championship. Matt Wright took the victory in Class E followed by Tim Harris in 2nd and Russell Burges taking 3rd. Burges now goes into the last round in top spot closely followed by Harris but if Clearwater has a good run at the last round he also is still in with a chance, this will be the class battle to keep an eye on.
The Clearwater Painting Renovating & Decorating Mainland rally series now heads back north to the South Canterbury car club Spring rally based in the Kakahu Forest just out of Geraldine. The Rally comprises of approximately 80km of special stages where there will some good Class battles on some great forestry roads.
By Hamish Anderson