Top seed Dean Bond of Balclutha overcame difficult conditions on Saturday to win the 2015 Catlins Coast Rally.
It was the third time Bond had won his home event, his previous victories having been achieved in 2009 and 2011. It was, however, far from easy as Bond’s Mitsubishi EVO 6.5 lost it’s brakes near the end of the opening stage even though he still recorded the fastest time. Even after a brake pad change the problem kept recurring, Bond’s foot going to the floor on several occasions as he braked, allowing Christchurch driver Deane Buist to take the lead in his Ford Escort. Bond’s problem was eventually traced to a brake bleeder which was not fitted properly and once rectified he regained the lead in Stage 4. He then extended the margin throughout the remaining stages to win by 49.4 seconds from Buist/Stewart Robbie of Invercargill with Gore driver Derek Ayson & co-driver Gavin McDermott third in their Nissan powered Ford Escort.
Conditions were difficult with snow encountered in some of the later stages and Bond admitted to being “shattered” at the end due to the extra concentration required on the slippery roads. To compound his problems, co-driver Allison Glover was carsick throughout the day and Bond praised her resolve as she battled on allowing him to take the win. “She was a trooper.” His third win was “really good”, he said as it took place in front of his many sponsors and supporters. The win earned Bond the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy.
Buist’s drive was also a good one in difficult circumstances. The night before the event he learned his former co-driver, Andrew Bulman, had passed away after an illness. Bulman had competed many times at Catlins and event organisers, the Eastern Southland Car Club, were also saddened by the news. Competitors observed a minutes silence prior to the event. Buist’s second place gave him 2-wheel-drive honours for the rally. Christchurch driver David Clearwater finished fourth overall in his Mitsubishi EVO 4 behind Ayson with Richard Bateman of Blenheim in a Mitsubishi and Scott Simpson of Oamaru (EVO 8) next.
Balclutha driver Barry Mills and Mark Allington were seventh in their Hillman Avenger maintaining a great record in the event with Wallacetown husband and wife, Neville and Hannah Krammer, eighth. The top ten was rounded out by Jason Clark of Havelock in a Mitsubishi EVO 5 and Vaughan Edie of Invercargill in an impressive return to rallying in an EVO 8.
The attrition rate was high with several top prospects failing to finish. Third seed, Mike Verdoner of Balclutha, went off the road in Stage 2 badly damaging his Ford Escort while fifth seed Regan Ross of Kaikoura blew an engine in his Escort. Bert Murray of Waimate was out early with gearbox damage while John Giltrap of Lincoln went off the road and down a large drop on Stage 2. Phillip Terry of Invercargill broke an axle in the seventh stage while running eighth. Australian John Spencer in his Nissan 240RS and veteran Trevor Crowe of Christchurch both succumbed to mechanical problems as well.
The class battles saw Richard Bateman win Class D while Clearwater took out Class E. Barry Mills won Class G while Brendon Mitchell of Winton secured Class F in his Datsun 1600. Jake Thomas of Mosgiel took the very competitive Class B honours in his Corolla DX and another Mosgiel driver, Steven Thompson Class A in a Datsun Sunny Coupe. Highlands Motorsport Park owner Tony Quinn was the Class C victor.
Mills and Allington won the Kerry O’Donohue Memorial Trophy for the first South Otago crew home and Jake Thomas/Cassidy Solomon were the first Otago Sports Car Club crew home in fifteenth place to claim the Glen Shirlaw Memorial Trophy.
The Monit Rally Computers Novice Driver Award went to Murray Garrick of Wanaka who finished 29th overall while Allison Glover, Bond’s winning co-driver, won the Novice Co-driver Award.
Major support for the event came from Rosebank Lodge and Century Yuasa Batteries. Supporting sponsors included Owaka Motors 2008 Ltd, South Roads and Mahindra Ag & Auto Direct.
The rally was Round 4 of the Clearwater Painting Mainland Rally Championship and Round 2 of the Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series.
1 – Steven Thompson/Jack Brownlie (Dunedin) Datsun Sunny Coupe
2 – Chris McLean/Mitchell Egan (Lyttelton) Toyota Corolla
3 – Scott Levings/Andy Vause (Cromwell) Toyota Starlet
1 – Jake Thomas/Cassidy Solomon (Mosgiel) Toyota Corolla DX
2 – Kevin Laird/Jane Blair (Alexandra) Toyota Levin AE92
3 – Garry Cowan/Dave Pettigrew (Rangiora) Toyota Corolla AE86
C (1601cc & over)
1 – Tony Quinn/Andrew Graves (Cromwell) Toyota 86
2 – Paul Gouman/Scott Gouman (Balclutha) Mazda RX7 V8
3 – Phillip Walker/Mike Gunn (Christchurch) Mazda RX7
1 – Richard Bateman/Sharisse Guckert (Blenheim) Mitsubishi Lancer
2 – Scott Simpson/Andrew McDonald (Oamaru) Mitsubishi EVO 8
3 – Jason Clark/Tracey Clark (Havelock) Mitsubishi EVO 5
E (Pre 2000 4WD)
1 – David Clearwater/Stephen Lloyd (Christchurch) Mitsubishi EVO 4
2 – Neville Krammer/Hannah Krammer (Wallacetown) Subaru Legacy RS
3 – Russell Burgess/Phillip Anderson (Dunedin) Toyota Celica GT4
F (0-1700cc Classics)
1 – Brendon Mitchell/Nigel Lawson (Winton) Datsun 1600
2 – Jeff Judd/Grant Marra (Christchurch) Ford Escort MK1
3 – Richard Clapperton/Ross Taylor (Invercargill) Datsun 1600
G (1701cc & over Classics)
1 – Barry Mills/Mark Allington (Balclutha) Hillman Avenger
2 – Roger Townshend/Nigel Barclay (Christchurch) Ford Escort RS1800
3 – Graham Ferguson/Ross Moody (Greymouth) Ford Escort RS1800