Graves wins his third Catlins Coast Rally

Clutha Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTER

Top seed An­drew Graves, of Gore, with co-driver Jared Lee­body, won his third Catlins Coast Rally with a com­mand­ing drive in his Mit­subishi EVO 3 on Satur­day.

Graves forged into the lead from the start, open­ing a good mar­gin over sec­ond seed Jeff Judd, of Christchurch, in a Subaru Im­preza WRX.

He con­tin­ued to build the lead, win­ning five spe­cial stages, be­fore Judd took the sixth and fi­nal stage.

Graves, who won the event in 2010 and 2013, won the Dar­ryl Robin­son Me­mo­rial Tro­phy for the third time with a 1 minute and 2.9 sec­ond mar­gin over Judd and co-driver Grant Marra, with another Christchurch driver, Michael Tall, and co-driver Matt Richards, in a four-wheel-drive Mit­subishi Mi­rage fin­ish­ing third.

‘‘We had no prob­lems,’’ Graves said.

‘‘The car was fine, the weather was fine. I kept my nose clean all day.

‘‘I was try­ing rea­son­ably hard un­til we got a good buf­fer. I backed off a lit­tle but the pace was still pretty hot later in the day. I was try­ing not to make mis­takes.

‘‘There was heavy gravel near the end on Hunt Rd and it would have been easy to throw it away.

‘‘I’m ab­so­lutely stoked for my ser­vice crew and spon­sors. It is as much a re­ward for them as it is for me.’’

Deane Buist and Karl Ce­leste, of Christchurch, were fourth over­all and the first twowheel-drive in a Ford Es­cort, while Carter Strang and Ste­wart Rob­bie, of Wal­lace­town, were fifth in their EVO 6.

The cur­rent leader of the New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship, Matt Sum­mer­field, of Christchurch, was sixth.

Gore’s Derek Ayson and Gav McDer­mott, in their Ford Es­cort FJ MK2, placed ninth.

Ayson also won the class he spon­sored, the Derek Ayson Farm­lands Real Es­tate Class G (1701cc & over clas­sics).

Last year’s win­ners Vaughan Edie and Tony John­ston, of In­ver­cargill, fin­ished tenth.

As al­ways, there were sev­eral hard luck sto­ries.

Two of the four North Is­lan­ders in the field were forced to re­tire, David Wright, of Te Aroha, af­ter a fire in his Ford Es­cort BDA in Stage 1, and Neil Dodds, of Gis­borne, with his car over­heat­ing late in the day.

Sixty-seven en­tries started the day, with 53 mak­ing it to the end.

More pic­tures, page 8

ROBYN EDIE

An­drew Graves, right, with his co-driver Jared Lee­body, both of Gore, with the Mit­subishi Evo 3.

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