Derek Ayson has taken out New Zealand's inaugural Classic Challenge Trophy after a hard fought battle across both events with friendly rival Regan Ross.

The Classic Challenge Trophy is a new two-round series for 2010 and encompasses the highly popular Otago Classic Rally as well as the newly formed Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally. Ayson had the advantage, beating Ross and the rest of the field to win at Otago, with a margin of just 22.9 seconds after two days of hard fought rallying.

Ayson and his loyal crew loaded up the trusty Nissan powered MkII Ford Escort for their first attempt at the Wairarapa Rally and the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally it encompassed, knowing that victory would wrap up the Classic Challenge Trophy.

Although Ross won the opening three stages, Ayson made his move on stage four, which at just shy of 30 kilometres was the longest of the event. His stage time was 11.2 seconds faster than Ross, giving him a slim lead of just .8 of a second. Ross fought back and by the end of the day Ayson was 15.8 seconds behind.

In a complete contrast to day one, Ayson pounced early on day two and by the days first service he had turned the deficit into a 5.2 second advantage. Despite a near disasterous moment on stage 13 that left the otherwise immaculate Escort with light damage to the rear of the car, Ayson extended his lead in the mixed conditions to take victory in the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally over Ross by 12.9 seconds and consequently becoming victorious in the Classic Challenge Trophy. On top of that, Ayson took out eighth overall for the rally and 1st two wheel drive against the best four-wheel drive turbocharged cars in the country.

Such was the tightness of the battle between Ayson and Ross that after two events, four days of rallying and 480km of special stage the pair were separated by 35.8 seconds, with Ayson taking 18 stage wins to Ross’ 10.

“The roads were fantastic, and very similar to what we have in the Catlins, being nice and flowing public roads, which I really enjoy rallying on”, said Ayson. “Regan is a good friend and a very talented driver in both 2wd and 4wd and was a lot of fun competing with him again with such close stage times. A huge thanks to Greg who did a great job co-driving and my very loyal and professional crew, Gavin, Hayden, Nigel and Paul who made the week long trip with us, and was a big commitment for them to be away from family and work for a whole week.” “A big thanks to all my sponsors, to Richard and the team at Dunlop Tyres for their help during the season, and to my wife Rachel for doing the lambing while we were away.”
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