A trip requiring a lot of preparation, planning and travel across the Tasman to New Zealand ended on a low note with ‘DNFs’ on both days for the Snooks Motorsport entry of its Datsun Stanza in the Dunlop Otago Classic Rally, conducted over the weekend of May 10 and 11.

“We started off on the wrong foot on the shakedown run prior to the event when a throttle link broke after only 700m and we had to be towed out,” Stanza driver Darryn Snooks, winner of the 2007 Alpine Rally, said. “We thought that this was a good start in as much as we had had our adverse luck very early. That thinking was a big mistake!

“A puncture on the very first stage cost time and we had to cruise through the second stage to the service point where we could get a good spare. Then we went well in the third stage, being in the fastest ten, but came to a complete stop in the fourth stage with a broken lower rear link, and the tailshaft escaped and damaged the gearbox. So, it meant being towed a second time, to the service point, where the service crew of brother Justyn and Ty Hooper did a sterling job of replacing both the tailshaft and gearbox in the rather muddy conditions that prevailed.”

Although carrying heavy penalties for missing stages on Day One, the second day was approached with some confidence for a good run. However ....

“We cruised through the first two stages, and then managed to take out the right rear quarter panel on a slippery ‘left 3’ on the third stage, followed by a spin in the fourth stage, as well as trying to carry out of the stage one of the huge rocks on the road that had been thrown up by the New Zealand Championship cars,” Snooks added.

“Then on the second last stage I took a ‘right four’ as if it was a ‘right six’ and proved once again that a car will leave the road under such circumstances. We careered through a newly erected fence and managed to leave one panel on the car undamaged. Even the roof was scarred by the barb wire. Luckily, the property farmer was spectating and he towed us, amongst our apologies, back to the road, but we decided ‘enough was enough’ and waited for the end of the stage before heading back to Dunedin.”

But all was not lost; a good time was had by all in the team and certainly there are thoughts of making a return next year, as the roads are brilliant to drive over, and the organisation exceptional.

Showing their class in a classic car, Wauchope-based New South Wales Rally Champions, Michael Boaden and Helen Cheers, who normally drive a Mitsubishi Evo, took out a great seventh outright against the vastly experienced New Zealanders in their Ford Escort, to follow up their 10th place in the 2007 event in the same car.

Neville Whittenbury/Dave Rudham, from Adelaide, drove their Datsun 180B to a fine 23rd place, this being their first Otago event, whilst Richard Opie (20th last year) was forced out on the very last stage after putting in another fine drive.


1    Pasi Hagstrom/Ian McKee    Porsche 911 RS    2:33:40
2    Deane Buist/James Bracefield    Toyota Corolla RS1800    2:37:20
3    Robert Murry/Stu Jenkinson    Mazda RX7 Gp B    2:38:32
7    Michael Boaden/Helen Cheers    Ford Escort RS1800    2:42:47
19    Keith and Mary Anne Calinan    Ford Escort RS1800    2:52:58
23    Neville Whittenbury/David Rudham    Datsun 180B    2:58:48
26    Phil Mason/Greg Fitzgerald    Toyota Starlet KP60    3:00:57
27    David and Peter Kayess    Datsun 1600    3:01:24
31    John Liddle/Robin Livingston    Datsun Sunny 1300    3:16:15
32    Greg Van Dinter/Ken Long    Nissan Bluebird Turbo    3:45:19
dnf    Darryn Snooks/Daniel Willson    Datsun Stanza    
dnf    Scott Neville (NZ)/Cate Kelly    Ford Escort RS1800    
dnf    Jason Keach/Peter McMillan    Ford Escort Mk1    
dnf    Greg Poole/Warwick Martin (NZ)    Ford Escort RS1800    
dnf    Richard Opie/Kam Baker    Datsun Stanza    
dnf    Allan and Erin Kelly    Ford Escort RS1800    

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