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Kiwi Deane Buist will be expecting a payout of bourbon from the Otago Rally organisers after beating Alex Fiorio to victory in the classic rally section of this weekend's event.

Buist has been the only local driver able to challenge the visiting European stars for victory on recent editions of the classic event. Until now, though, he has failed to turn his undoubted pace behind the wheel of a Ford Escort BDA into an Otago classic win against top-flight overseas visitors.

That changed today, when Buist drove across the finish ramp to accept the winner’s trophy after leading from the first stage of the classic event. The obligation now falls on the rally organisers to reward Buist with a bottle of his favourite tipple, following a good-natured bet he made when he was seeded second – behind Fiorio (Porsche 911) – for this weekend’s event.

Buist’s final winning margin was 46.9 seconds over his Italian rival.

Fiorio was still delighted to finish runner-up on this, his second appearance at Otago. He explained that his father, former Lancia world rally and Ferrari F1 boss Cesare, had told him after last year’s event that Porsches never beat Escort BDAs on gravel rallies.

“But perhaps that just makes me more determined to come back next year and try again,” he said.

The next there places fell to New Zealanders Bert Murray (Mazda RX-7), Derek Ayson (Ford Escort) and Duncan McCrostie (Nissan Bluebird turbo).

Sixth place went to former Australian champion Geoff Portman (Nissan Stanza), who thoroughly enjoyed his first experience of classic rallying in New Zealand .

“It is a long time since I have driven in such a quality field,” he said. “I think the pace is faster and harder than when I was rallying seriously.”

Portman’s Nissan team mate Darryn Snooks got the better of Peter Whitten (Ford Escort) in their battle, but Whitten was relieved simply to make the finish as the gearbox of his car started to make ominous sounds towards the end of the event.

Michael Boaden completed the classic rally top-ten in his Escort, with Richard Opie (20th) the only other Australian to complete all 15 stages of the event.

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