CROMWELL driver Ari Pettigrew, in a borrowed four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Pronto, won the Eastern Southland Car Club’s Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint by the barest of margins on Saturday.
Pettigrew set a time on his last run of the day which allowed him to pip Andrew Graves, of Gore, in a Mitsubishi EVO 3, by .32 of a second.
The club held a rallysprint this year in place of its annual rally and the competition was intense.
Competitors had three runs at an 8.5km piece of road to set their best time in leg one before tackling an 8.3km stretch, essentially leg one in reverse, to set their best times in leg two.
Each competitor’s best time from each leg was added to give them their final placing in the event.
Graves set the fastest time of 4 minutes 19.07 seconds on leg one, giving him a margin of 2.61sec over Pettigrew to that point.
However, Pettigrew, the open two-wheel-drive national champion at the wheel of a car owned and also driven by David Kirk, of Gore, sealed the win on the final run of leg two with a scorching time of 4min 28.78sec, which eclipsed Graves’ best by 2.93sec, giving Pettigrew the victory.
Pettigrew was “over the moon” to eclipse Graves.
“I built confidence in the car during the day and then it all seemed to click.”
Graves was full of praise for Pettigrew’s effort.
“Ari was outstanding in a borrowed car,” he said.
“It was an absolutely huge day. The weather was terrible and the road very slippery in places. There would be sun and then it was teeming with rain. A dry run was a bonus but there weren’t many of those.”
Graves also acknowledged his new co-driver Marshall Sayer.
“He did an outstanding job and enjoyed himself.’’
Dean Bond, of Balclutha, in an EVO 6.5, was third, just a shade over 7sec off the winning time after briefly holding the lead during leg one, while John Spencer, of Dunedin (EVO 7 RS), and Mark McMillan, of Invercargill, in a Subaru Legacy RS, were fourth and fifth respectively.
Spencer, McMillan and Ray Casey, of Cromwell (Nissan Pulsar GTiR), were the top three in Class D while Winton driver Brendon Mitchell (Datsun 1600) took Class C honours from Barry Mills, of Balclutha (Hillman Avenger), and Sean Sands, of Springston, in a Ford Escort MK2.
Victory in Class B went to Ian Warren, of Dunedin, in his Nissan Pulsar VZR, with Jake Thomas, of Mosgiel (Toyota Levin AE86), second, and Craig Cormack, of Gore (Toyota Corolla AE86), third.
Hamish Roche, of Dunedin, had Class A all to himself in his Suzuki Swift GTi.
Casualties included Craig Barclay, of Balclutha, who had a flywheel problem in his Ford Escort, Richie Chadwick, of Dunedin, who lost ignition spark in his Toyota Corolla GT, and Isabella Magee, of Dunedin, with a driveline problem in her Honda CRX.
Nigel Ede, of Queenstown, was the day’s unluckiest competitor when a gearbox problem before the first timed run forced him out of the event.
Rally chairman Roger Laird said, “Kudos to David Kirk for inviting Ari to drive his car. Ari eased into the day and put it all into the last run where he was almost 3 seconds quicker than Andrew. Ari and Andrew both drove well and Ari confirmed he is a rising star.”
Laird also paid tribute to the marshalls.
“It was a windy day with squally showers and our team was awesome in trying conditions.”
The Rosebank Lodge Catlins Rallysprint was supported by the Clutha Licensing Trust and the Clutha District Council while the club appreciated the support of landowners in the area.
Lindsay Beer, on behalf of the Eastern Southland Car Club