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Invercargill driver Vaughan Edie won the 2016 Catlins Coast Rally on Saturday in slippery conditions.

Vaughan Edie slides his way to victory. (Photo: Euan Cameron)Edie and co-driver Tony Johnston, the twentieth seeds, took their Mitsubishi EVO 8 into the lead early after competitors’ encountered snow. They emerged from the second stage with a lead of almost a minute which then extended to 1 minute 24 seconds after the third stage. Edie secured the Darryl Robinson Memorial Trophy for the win and described it as by far the highlight of his motorsport career.

“I’m stoked. I never, ever thought we could win it and the conditions definitely helped but we will take it! It was definitely eyeballs wide open and a wee bit of a lottery. Some parts were horrible and you just had to get through. I have seen the highs and lows of this sport and I would rather be at this end of things,” said Edie who has done little rallying in recent years.

Andrew Graves of Gore, the top seed in an EVO 3, suffered the worst of the conditions in the first two stages. After the first stage he was in a lowly thirty-fifth place, nearly one and a half minutes behind early leader Shaun McMillan who won the opener. Graves fought back as the conditions improved, winning the last four stages of the event to charge back to second place, 33.9 seconds behind Edie.

Derek Ayson of Gore had a similar rally to Graves, suffering badly in the first stage, before working his way back to third and the first of the 2-wheel-drive cars in his Nissan powered Escort, finishing second to Graves on three of the last four stages.

Graves was happy with the result. “The first two stages were diabolical. I have never driven in anything so slippery. We got away with a lot. We were scrubbing up against a lot of the scenery. We gave it a good push over the last four but it wasn’t quite enough. I’m pleased for Vaughan though.”

Ayson said the day was, “challenging but quite rewarding in the end. I’m stoked for Vaughan.” He also singled out Ari Pettigrew and Deane Buist for their efforts in difficult conditions.

Fourth overall went to Ari Pettigrew of Christchurch in a BMW 318Ti in just his second rally. Ari and his father, co-driver David, were seeded at sixty-two for the event. Husband and wife team Richie and Rachel Chadwick of Dunedin were fifth in their Toyota Corolla GT, winning the Glen Shirlaw Trophy for the first Otago Sports Car Club crew to finish.

Regan Ross/Marcus Van Link of Kaikoura and 2015 NZ Rally Champion Ben Hunt/Dylan Thomson were next followed by Barry Mills/Mark Allington of Balclutha in their Hillman Avenger, the duo winning the Kerry O’Donohue Memorial Trophy for the first South Otago crew in eighth place overall. Cantabrians David Clearwater/Stephen Lloyd and father and daughter team, David & Emma Quantock, rounded out the top ten.

Snow from start to finish in the first stage really shook up the order with the top seeds striking the worst of the conditions. Shaun McMillan of Christchurch won the stage in a Subaru Legacy from Edie with seventy-third seed Scott Paul of Milton third in a Ford Escort and the Chadwick’s fourth. Edie won the second from Pettigrew and Chadwick before Graves took the remainder. However, Edie had built too much of a buffer for Graves to catch him.

Christchurch driver Deane Buist was one of the many hard luck stories of the day. Seeded fourth in his 2wd Ford Escort Buist managed the early conditions well and sat third after five of the six stages, only to crash on ice in the final stage. McMillan was another who struck trouble late in the rally, stopping with mechanical problems in the final stage while seventh.

Steven Thompson of Mosgiel won the Balclutha Auto Electrics Class A for 2-wheel-drive cars of 0-1300cc, a great result after racing the clock to rebuild his car after a recent crash.

The Alexandra Auto Electrical Class B for 2-wheel drive cars from 1301-1600cc went to Richie & Rachel Chadwick in their Toyota Corolla GT after their brilliant drive to fifth while Pettigrew’s great effort netted him the Window Tint South Class C for 2-wheel-drive cars of 1601cc and over. Valley Coachlines Class D for 4-wheel-drive cars was taken out by 2015 NZ Rally Champion Ben Hunt of Auckland while the Ritchies Transport Holdings Class E for Pre 96 4-wheel-drive cars went to Murray Marshall of Kaitangata who was twelfth overall.

Brendon Mitchell of Winton (Datsun 1600) won the Flashclad Class F for 0-1700cc Classics and Regan Ross took the MV Motors Class G for Classics of 1701cc and over.

Ari Pettigrew and Perry Moore won the Monit Rally Computers Novice Driver Prizes while Caleb Kirk and Flip How-Jones were the top novice co-drivers.  

The event was Round 4 of the Clearwater Painting Mainland Rally Championship and also part of the Eastern Southland Car Club's Rally Championship. It was also the 60th rally ever run by the Eastern Southland Car Club and comes in the year of the club’s 60th Anniversary. Former winner Rhys Gardner live streamed the event, the coverage receiving 23,000 views.

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