Rallysprint ‘absolutely fantastic’

Mud wrestling . . . Balclutha driver Dean Bond and co›driver Scott Milne tackle the Puaho Rd hairpin on Saturday morning, en route to a second place in the McLellan Freight Catlins Rallysprint this weekend. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

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‘‘Everything a rally should be. . .’’

Drivers have praised the McLellan Freight Catlins Rallysprint for ‘‘effortless’’ delivery of a classic rallying experience last weekend.

Gore charger Andrew Graves won the two›day event in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3, closely followed by local hero Dean Bond in his Evo 6, and Carter Strang, of Invercargill, in his Evo 10.

Graves said it had been an ‘‘absolutely fantastic’’ weekend of driving.

‘‘Saturday [on Puaho Rd] was heavy gravel, wet conditions and quite technical. Sunday for us was a lot faster on smooth, sweeping roads at Cannibal Bay, but both stages were just awesome — everything a rally should be.

‘‘My head gasket was starting to fail, so big thanks to my co› driver Glen Frew for keeping us on the road all weekend.’’

Graves paid credit to Bond for pushing him hard.

‘‘We had a great battle with those guys and had to put everything on the table, so all credit to Dean.’’

Bond was similarly effusive about the South Otago Car Club› run event, which fills a gap left by the former Catlins Coast Rally, after that event concluded in 2020.

‘‘The roads are amazing down there. We were touching 180kmh towards the beach on Cannibal Bay Road, and all our visitors were really positive about the drive. It bodes well for the future,’’ Bond said.

Car club president Dean McCrostie said all elements had come together to make for the perfect weekend of rallying.

‘‘We’re a small club and everyone plays their part to make something like this happen. We’re grateful to our major sponsors McLellan Freight for their support, and local farmers, the council, LandSAR and our first›aiders.’’

The club now hoped to mount the rallysprints as a yearly event, he said.

‘‘Our competitors had 80km of rallying over two days, in a relaxed, affordable format over some of the best roads in New Zealand.

‘‘Everyone’s got a smile from ear to ear and has had an absolute blast.’’