Balclutha rally driver Dean Bond was happy with his fourth place at last weekend’s 20th anniversary Catlins Coast Rally.
“It was a well›earned fourth place. I was right there in the hunt all day and by the end we were only six seconds behind third›placed Regan Ross, while behind us, Josh Marston was just five seconds away,” Bond said.
“This year I know I really earned fourth place, because after stage three we started to notice smoke coming out of the car.
“I suspected that it was a leaking head gasket, but the car kept going. “We went really good at stage three and we even caught the car in front and passed them.” He said he knew he was always going to have a fast time on stage four. “These are roads I know very well. I was a bit more confident on the roads up near Balclutha because I cut my teeth on them when I first started rallying.
“But I was worried about the engine. Surprisingly, it didn’t matter, as during the very fast Tawanui stage through the forest we recorded the fifth›fastest time.
But special stage five Cannibal Bay was a very different prospect as the road had dried out and became very slippery,
“I slid and hit the bank a couple of times but it all hung together.
“By stage six, the 36km long run home, I knew I had a chance at third place and put on a bit of a charge to get past Regan Ross who was up ahead of us.
“We did very well and we almost got third spot off him but we couldn’t get close enough to hit the Rallysafe passing alert. We just couldn’t see him properly in the thick dust to pass him safely.”
Bond did however get a recorded top speed of 212.1kmh on stage three’s flat roads.
“We saw it come up on the Rallysafe readout, it was quite cool, but Andrew Graves got the highest speed of the day with a staggering 212.5kmh. His car is very deceptively fast,” Bond said.
Christchurch rally driver Matt Summerfield clinched the 2020 Catlins Coast Rally title with a lead of 38.8sec over second› placed Andrew Graves, of Gore.
“It was an excellent day overall,” Summerfield said.
“It started off a bit interesting when we had a really big spin in the openin
g stage so we had to tone it down and chip away at Graves’ lead.”
A field of 81 cars lined up and by the end 19 cars had retired for a variety of reasons including four from off›road excursions.
Graves and Barry Mills, of Balclutha, have competed in every single Catlins Coast rally. Graves has won it four times as a driver and twice as a co›driver.
Unfortunately, Mills’ rally ended with a cracked engine block in stage three.