Top field for 2014 Rally of Otago
An impressive field of 88 competitors will line up for next month’s International Rally of Otago, with some of the rallying’s biggest names taking part, including 1994 World Champion, Didier Auriol, from France.
The 44-car field for round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship component of the event is headed by multiple champions Richard and Sara Mason in a Subaru Impreza WRX, followed by the similar cars of Matt Summerfield and Lance Williams. The leading Mitsubishi Lancer runner is Graham Featherstone, followed by former champion Chris West.
New Zealand’s fastest female rally driver, Dunedin’s own Emma Gilmour, has entered her Suzuki Swift Maxi 1600, while a surprise entry from Andrew Hawkeswood in a Mazda2 4WD Maxi will create plenty of interest. David Holder, who led round one of the series in an ex-Hayden Paddon Mitsubishi, will be another to watch. The NZRC field also includes competitors in the Allcomers rally, with the Mitsubishi of Carter Strang leading a strong field that includes the Impreza WRX of Christchurch’s Jeff Judd.
There are also 44 cars entered in the Stadium Cars / Ssangyong Classic Rally of Otago, with all eyes on France’s Didier Auriol in a Ford Escort RS1800. On his first visit to the Otago Rally, Auriol will face tough competition from current Hyundai World Rally Team driver, Hayden Paddon, also in an Escort, and last year’s rally winner, Australian Neal Bates in a Toyota Celica. Seven Australians will start the Classic Rally as the event continues to attract huge interest from across the Tasman and around the world.
The rally will start from Dunedin’s Octagon on Friday evening, May 9. After two days of intense competition, the historic Dunedin Railway Station will host the finish celebrations on Sunday afternoon. Before then, however, competitors will tackle 15 competitive stages to the south of Dunedin, with 280 kilometres of competitive driving over the two days.