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Four-time Australian Rally Champion, Neal Bates, has become the first driver from across the Tasman to win the Stadium Cars / Nichibo International Classic Rally of Otago after a dominant performance in the Dunedin-based event.

Together with co-driver Coral Taylor, Bates led from the very first stage in his Toyota Celica RA40, and finished the two-day, 16 stage event with a winning margin of 56.9 seconds.

Three-time Otago Rally winner, Derek Ayson, finished second in his Nissan powered Ford Escort, ahead of the BDA Escort of another former winner, Deane Buist.

The 1988 and 1989 World Rally Champion, Miki Biasion, quickly got back into the groove after many years out of competition, bringing his Porsche 911 RS home in fifth place.

ImageDay 2 of the Stadium Cars / Nichibo International Classic Rally of Otago saw competitors contesting eight special stages to the north west and south of Dunedin, with three of the rally’s most famous stages – Waipori Gorge, Kuri Bush and Whare Flat – concluding the event.

With a 38.2 second lead heading into the final day, Bates was intent on preserving his advantage, rather than taking undue risks in the push for victory. After winning six of the eight stages on day one, he won just a solitary stage on day two, however it was more than enough to secure victory.

"We have just had a most fabulous Otago Rally," co-driver Coral Taylor said.

"We've competed on the fastest stage we've ever done, the trickiest stage we've ever done and probably the most fun stage ever at Kuri Bush.

"It is a great feeling to win this rally. The NZ competitors are a great bunch. Actually New Zealanders in general are a great bunch, they can't do enough to welcome you and help out wherever possible. This has been a really enjoyable trip."

Ayson, the 2009-2011 winner, was third at the start of the day, but put in an inspired drive to claim six of the day’s eight stages and move ahead of Buist into second place. He and co-driver, Andrew Graves, finished 25.1 seconds clear of the Christchurch driver – the 2007 rally winner.

Fourth place went to Christchurch’s Jeff Judd and Malcolm Read in a Ford Escort RS1800, nearly two minutes clear of Biasion.

Competing in Dunedin for the first time, Miki Biasion was perhaps never likely to have the outright speed for victory, but consistency was always going to be his strong suit. Together with fellow Italian, Fabrizi Pons (a regular Otago Rally competitor), they were always in the mix for a top five finish.

Australian drivers, and regular Otago Rally competitors, Jeff David (Porsche 911) and Stewart Reid (Ford Escort RS1800) were sixth and seventh, while the top 10 was rounded out by Graham Fergusson (Ford Escort RS1800), Mike Townshend (Toyota Corolla AE86) and Kayne Barrie (BWM Hartge H5).

The event also included the Rally of Otago, the first round of the 2013 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, with Hayden Paddon and John Kennard taking a dominant victory on both days.

The 2011 Production World Rally Champions were far too polished for their rivals, with reigning NZ champions, Richard and Sara Mason, finishing second in their Subaru Impreza WRX.

A close battle in the Allcomers Rally eventually went the way of Dean Bond and Ross Moody (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5), just 21.9 seconds ahead of the Ford Escort of Brian Stokes and Ally Mackay.

Stadium Cars / Nichibo International Classic Rally of Otago
Results after Day 2

1. Neal Bates / Coral Taylor, Toyota Celica RA40, 2h36m00.8s
2. Derek Ayson / Andrew Graves, Ford Escort FJ2000, +56.9s
3. Dean Buist / Andrew Bulman, Ford Escort RS1800, +1m22.0s
4. Jeff Judd / Malcolm Read, Ford Escort RS1800, +3m09.5s
5. Miki Biasion / Fabrizia Pons, Porsche 911 RS, +5m01.8s
6. Jeff David / Grant Geelan, Porsche 911, +5m40.6s
7. Stewart Reid / Iain Stewart, Ford Escort RS1800, +7m53.1s
8. Graham Fergusson / Bede O’Connor, Ford Escort RS1800, +9m50.9s
9. Roger Townshend / Richard Atkinson, Ford Escort RS1800, +13m25.4s
10. Kayne Barrie / Jason West, BMW Hartge H5, +13m25.6s

Otago Allcomers Rally
Results after Day 2

1. Dean Bond / Ross Moody, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5, 2h34m50s
2. Brian Stokes / Ally Mackay, Ford Escort 2500, +21.9s
3. Carter Strang / Stewart Robbie, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5, +3m14.4s
4. Paul Dickson / Andree Beattie, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3 RS, +9m19.8s
5. Russell Burgess / Phillip Anderson, Toyota Celica, +14m27.1s
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