Roberts, Ayson take honours in Border Ranges Rally
- 29th August 2016, 5:46am
The 2016 Border Ranges Rally was heavily promoted as the ‘must-do’ event of the second half of the year.
Using roads previously included in the WRC round in northern NSW ensured that the quality of the event was second to none.
A cracking field of outright and classic competitors added to the profile of the rally, along with at least one ‘guest’ driver from NZ in the form of Escort exponent, Derek Ayson, in Ed Mulligan’s local Mk 2.
The welcoming attitude of the Kyogle region, together with a beautiful, sunny winter’s day ensured a quality weekend for all. Rainy weather in the lead up to the event caused the late abandonment of the proposed special stage in the Kyogle Showgrounds, saving the beautiful green grass from decimation, but ensuring the relationship with the Show Society was preserved!
Unfortunately, reports of protesters in the area throwing burning rags onto the rally roads brought a stage to a halt, reminding the organisers of the troubles that befell the WRC a few years ago when anti-rally locals caused havoc.
Despite the wisely-enforced delay and the loss of one competitive stage, it was a great battle for supremacy over fast and flowing shire roads.
At rally end, the NSW team of Peter Roberts and Andrew Crowley took outright victory in their MRF Tyres-shod Evo 6 Lancer, just 30 seconds in front to the similar car of Rob Bishop/Neill Woolley. Bishop and Woolley claimed the 2016 MRF Tyres Queensland Rally Championship to boot.
Taking the remaining podium spot was yet another Evo 6 in the hands of Peter Kahler and Claire Buccini,
Kahler has graduated from running very well prepared Geminis for a number of years to the much more powerful 4WD car and acquitted himself well.
NZ local legend, Derek Ayson, has been to the Border Ranges event before driving a course car, but his performance in the red Escort justified his excellent fourth outright and first in the Classic category. Brisbane co-driver Cate Kelly was chuffed with the ride, guiding Ayson expertly over the fast roads.
Rounding out the top five was Steve Tonna/Peter Graham – Steve having a rare outing these days in his well-prepared Evo 5.
Impressively, positions three to five were only separated by less than 30 seconds.
28 finishers were recognised, with (lucky) last going to the genuine Mk 1 Lotus Cortina of Mike Bailey and Bill Spurway.
With the presentation held after the rally on Saturday night, campers endured a chilly night camping at Kyogle Showground.
- Tom Smith
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