Gwyndaf Evans to headline 2012 Otago Rally
- 20th January 2012, 8:19am
The 52-year old former school bus driver will drive a locally prepared Ford Escort RS1800 in an event that has previously attracted some of the world’s best rally drivers. Evans was the British Rally Champion in 1996, and has been one of that country’s leading rally drivers since the 1980s, driving for the factory Ford, Seat, MG and Mitsubishi teams.
He has taken several top 10 placings on World Rally Championship events, and comes to New Zealand determined to follow in the footsteps of the other rallying greats who have contested the event.
Due to an unavoidable conflict of commitments, the hugely respected Rossendale Team will not be running the guest driver in 2012. This falls instead to Christchurch's Bryce Biggs, who provides a high quality vehicle leasing business, and in fact will be running four international drivers at the event.
Rally of Otago spokesman, Roger Oakley, said that the Otago Sports Car Club was thrilled to have secured the talented Welshman for the 2012 event.
“Gwyndaf Evans is a name synonymous with rallying in the UK, and to have him confirmed for this year’s Otago Rally is very pleasing,” Oakley said.
“While much of Gwyndaf’s success has come in front-wheel drive rally cars, he has more recently being driving rear-wheel drive Ford Escorts in classic events, so he’ll feel right at home in the Bryce Biggs-prepared Escort in New Zealand.
“He won the famous Roger Albert Clark Rally in the UK last November, so he’ll be a real threat to the New Zealand and Australia drivers who’ll be aiming for victory this year.”
Evans’ entry in the event continues a long list of international stars that have contested the event, including former World Champions Bjorn Waldegard, Hannu Mikkola, Juha Kankkunen and Ari Vatanen, and fellow WRC stars Michele Mouton, Russell Brookes, Alex Fiorio and Piero Liatti.
Based out of Dunedin in the South Island, competition will begin on Friday night, with three stages close to the city, totalling nearly 60 kilometres in length.
The night stages were reintroduced in 2011, with competitors and spectators enjoying the opportunity to watch some of the best rally drivers light up the forests.
These stages are different to the ones used in 2011, but will all offer excellent viewing opportunities for spectators.
The rally heads north of Dunedin on Saturday morning for seven gravel stages, with the day finishing with the tarmac street stage around the city after over 115 competitive kilometres.
Stages include Shag Valley, a couple of new stages and a return to Waikouaiti, a stage not used in the event for many years.
The final day, Sunday, will provide a real sting in the tail for the remaining competitors, with a further six stages and over 130km, including two stages of at least 25km, and a marathon new 45km test through the Berwick Forest, which will be the penultimate of the rally.
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