The 2008 Rally of Otago may be still three months away, but that hasn’t stopped a record number of early entries for this year’s event, scheduled for May 10 and 11.

Already nearly 60 competitors have registered their intention to compete in the Dunedin-based rally, including 10 from Australia, one entry from the Philippines, and high-profile entries from Finland and France.

The world’s best-ever female rally driver, Michele Mouton, heads the list in a Ford Escort RS1800, while former event winner, Finland’s Pasi Hagstrom, will return to New Zealand – this time at the wheel of a Porsche 911.

The majority of entries so far have come from competitors planning to enter the Dunlop International Classic Rally of Otago, while a strong showing from the Rally Xtreme class and the New Zealand Rally Championship competitors will ensure that this year’s rally is fully subscribed.

One of the most exciting cars on the starting list will be Andrew Hawkeswood’s Audi Quattro S1 replica, which has a full Group B Audi motor, combined with Subaru Impreza running gear. The car will run in the Rally Xtreme event, and is sure to be a crowd favourite.

Entries from Australia include Darryn Snooks (Datsun Stanza) and Michael Boaden (Ford Escort), who both finished in the top 10 in last year’s Classic Rally. Boaden’s Escort will be powered by a Mazda Rotary engine this year as the New South Wales Rally Champion aims to move further up the leaderboard.

Former Australian Rally Championship front-runner, Brad Goldsborough, will swap his Subaru Impreza WRX for a Datsun 180B in his first attempt at the event, while a number of other leading Aussies are still expected to enter.

With the majority of the leading New Zealand Rally Championship competitors yet to enter the event, organisers are expecting a steady stream of entries between now and when entries official close.

The 2008 Otago Rally will include round two of the Vantage Aluminium New Zealand Rally Championship, the Dunlop International Classic Rally of Otago, and Rally Xtreme which will allow any vehicle to be part of the field.

This year’s rally will entail 13 special stages covering a total competitive distance of 258km. As well as two days of flat-out competition, a high-profile pre-event Motor Show will be held on the Friday night, enabling competitors to display their cars in front of a large crowd of spectators and rally fans.

The event website,, includes a full list of those competitors who have entered the event so far.

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