Havelock North’s Stewart Taylor and his Gisborne-based co-driver Warwick Searle have been awarded the honour of top seed for Rally Gisborne, which gets underway on Saturday 7 August.
Taylor’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X is scheduled as the first car to leave the Gisborne Cosmopolitan Club start, a position the 35-year-old driver  isn’t sure is a good thing.
“I am not too sure; it is often regarded as a disadvantage,” says Taylor. “Normally  it is a disadvantage to run first where you’re sweeping the gravel off the roads for  following competitors, plus it is not as easy to know what our competitors are doing. But if the wet weather stays around, it will definitely be an advantage.”
Second seed is Coromandel teenager Alex Kelsey, while third is Ian Wood of Rotorua, both driving Subaru Imprezas. Fourth seed and first of the competitors in both the Stilo Top Half and Geartech Central Region rally series is Wellington’s Adam Bligh who, driving a Mitsubishi Evo 6 and rounding out the top five is Hastings driver Grant Blackberry.
“Stewart Taylor will be the one that everyone will be chasing,”says Rally Gisborne clerk of course Stuart Barnett. “But having said that, any of the top five and beyond are more than capable of winning the event.”
Seeded at number ten, former two-wheel-drive national champion Aaron Cook is the first 2WD car on the road and can expect stiff competition for top 2WD honours from Tony McConachy, right behind him in position eleven. “We’re expecting to see a hard-fought battle with this pair,” says Barnett. Cook drives a modern, more conventional Honda Civic Type R while McConachy’s Toyota Starlet is a home-built special which runs a 1300cc Suzuki motorcycle engine.
The highest seeded of the five Gisborne locals is Mark Beaufoy, who starts the rally as car 13 on the road, but carries number 14 on the side of the car to escape the superstition associated with the number 13.
Rally Gisborne gets underway from the Gisborne Cosmopolitan Club at 9.30am on Saturday August 7. Competitors tackle six special stages using three roads west of the city, with morning and afternoon runs through each stage, before finishing at the Cosmopolitan Club at approximately 5.00pm. During that time, competitors will cover 137.6 kilometres of closed road special stages.

Fans wishing to view Rally Gisborne’s action can do so free of charge. More information, including a spectator map, can be found on the website www.rallynz.org.nz in the Rally Gisborne section, while a full seeded entry list is available at www.chrissport.co.nz in the Rally Gisborne section.
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