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Havelock North’s Stewart Taylor and co-driver Rob Ryan have taken a well-deserved victory on Rally of the North, an event that threw a variety of challenges at all competitors.
 
The morning’s conditions were wet, windy and wild and Taylor took the lead in the second special stage, Vizible, before stamping his real claim in stage four, aptly the stage named after his 2006 victory, Taylor, some 44 seconds faster than his nearest competitor and all but ending his rivals chances when the sun came out for the final four special stages.
 
Taylor originally battled with defending champion Dylan Turner and Rally of the North debutant Geof Argyle before making his break and in the end Turner and Argyle came home in second and third places respectively, creating a Mitsubishi Evo lockout of the podium
 
“The conditions were pretty tricky early on and we were shaping up for a good battle, but we knew that stage four, at 37km, was a good chance to open a gap if we could be quick the whole way through,” said Taylor. “After that it was a matter of making sure we got to the finish, although stage six at 31km was another chance for people to claw back some time, so we attacked in there. Otherwise we pretty much drove down the middle of the road.”
 
Behind the front runners, the highly anticipated battle for two-wheel drive honours turned into a battle of attrition with both Justin Glavish (Toyota Starlet) and Craig Stevens (Ford Escort) retiring in the first stage with engine and gearbox problems respectively, then Craig Marshall (Peugeot 206) left the road in his rallying return on stage two. The monster stage four saw Brent Taylor (Toyota Corolla) leave the road, although not for the last time in the day, as well as diff failure for Tony McConachy(Toyota Starlet), while stage five took care of Neil Allport (Ford Escort) and David Wright (Nissan Pulsar), who had set the two-wheel drive pace all day, leaving Paul de Rose in his Mitsubishi Mirage to take two-wheel drive honours ahead of David Ralph (Toyota Starlet) and Kayne Barrie in the unique BMW 550i.
 
Class winners included Taylor (Class D), Wayne Rowberry (Class E), De Rose (Class B), Barrie (Class C) and Garry Trayes (Class A).
 
The Rally of the North committee now look towards the 2013 running of the event, which is likely to move to a date earlier in the season.
 
Press Release by BB Media

Photo: Kate Faulkner

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