Welsh driver to contest Otago Rally

By Catherine Pattison on Mon, 12 Feb 2018 | Rally | Rallying
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Welsh rally driver Meirion Evans will drive a Ford Escort RS1800 in the Otago Classic Rally in April. PHOTO: PETER WHITTEN

The Otago Classic Rally entry list has been boosted by some extra star power, with three-time Welsh Rally Champion Meirion Evans the latest international driver to be announced this week.

Evans (22) joins Norwegian WRC star Mads Ostberg (30) at the April 14 and 15 event. Both are driving Ford Escort RS1800s.

Evans is no stranger to New Zealand and is the 2016 Silver Fern Rally champion, having won the event on his first attempt.

For the Otago Classic Rally, he'll team up with Kiwi co-driver Rob Scott, and will push for a top-three finish in a brand-new Escort that Evans has shipped from Wales to New Zealand.

‘‘The car is brand-new, and it will be a real eye-opener,'' Evans said. ‘‘With some experience of New Zealand roads from the Silver Fern Rally, hopefully we should do OK.''

Evans' previous results should position him as one of the pre-event favourites.

He won the Welsh Rally Championship from 2011 to 2013.

In 2012, he won five major rally championships - West Midlands, Welsh Association of Motor Clubs, North West, Border and Teifi Valley Motor Club - and more recently won the 2014 International Rally Isle of Man Tarmac Classic.

When he's not driving, Evans is the managing director of Wales Motorsport, a company that produces quality components for Group 4 Mk 1 and 2 Escorts.

Ostberg, a World Rally Championship factory driver for Citroen, has competed in 111 WRC events, with 16 podium finishes and a debut victory in the 2012 Rally de Portugal in a privately-entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 

He'll be co-driven by Belgian Stephane Prevot, who partnered Estonian Markko Martin to victory in the 2016 and 2017 Otago Classic Rallies.

The Otago Rally will be Ostberg's first event in New Zealand, and his first time driving a rear-wheel drive Ford Escort.

A field of 120-plus competitors is expected to gather in Dunedin for the two-day event.