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.

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