Defending Catlins rally champ returns
Despite a ‘‘perfect storm’’ helping Invercargill driver Vaughan Edie to victory in last year’s Catlins Rally, this weekend he’s praying for sunshine.
The storm in question at last winter’s rally was a combination of wet, sleety and snowy conditions over some stages, combined with a road position some way down the ladder.
That had meant driving conditions uniquely suited to the motocross aficionado’s skills and temperament, as Edie explained.
‘‘I come from amotocross background, where you’re used to sliding around a bit, staying focused, and taking those conditions into account.
‘‘That combined with our later road position on those critical early stages meant we had a nice track to follow by the time we came out,’’ he said.
Last year’s second stage had been the game changer for Edie and co-driver Tony Johnston in their Mitsubishi EVO 8.
‘‘We caught a few cars in the second stage, and thought we were going reasonable. Then, when we discovered we were in the lead, it changed our attitude a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘For the rest of the day we were holding off Dougie [top seed Andrew Graves] which was no easy feat. It’s fair to say we didn’t enjoy those last few stages too much with him breathing down our neck, but we’d never have lived it down if we lost after taking that early lead.’’
Describing it as ‘‘cool’’ to have his name on the trophy, Edie was realistic about his aspirations this year - given a lack of practice.
‘‘Motorsport has taken a back seat this year as we’ve done other things.
‘‘I did the Dusky Forest Rally but we had an electrical fault, and I’ve done a couple of gravel sprints, but that’s about it. It’s coming back to us now a wee bit, though.’’
Bumped up the starters’ ladder this year, Edie said he would prefer not to see a repeat of last year’s challenging conditions on track.
‘‘We wouldn’t have the advantage of that nice track to follow this year.
‘‘It would be good to see some sunshine out there - for all the competitors, I think.’’
The six-stage Catlins Coast Rally starts at 10am and finishes about 3.44pm at Owaka. It’s also round 5 of the Stadium Finance Mainland Rally Championship and a points round for the Eastern Southland Car Club Rally Championship Trophy.