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An integral part of the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa is the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally. Providing a place for the magnificent machines of yesterday to be able to play the way their makers intended is a passion for the rally organisers. Preserving our history for the future is their motto.

This year is no exception with 14 cars entered into the classic rally classes. Heading the field is last year’s winner Marcus van Klink in his potent Group B RX7. However he will have the quadraphonic sound of four Escort RS1800s chasing him down, and there is more on the line than just rally honours.

Fellow south islanders Deane Buist and Jeff Judd are locked in a tight fight for the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. With Judd just 7 points ahead of Buist, and van Klink 11 further back in third, this trio will be going all out for the championship title.

All three have scored a win in the classic class over the season, and on average only seconds separate placings, meaning that any one of these drivers is capable of winning on the day. The only slight advantage is that van Klink has more experience on the Wairarapa roads.

Meanwhile there is still the Classic Challenge Trophy to consider. Paired with the International Classic Rally of Otago, this two round series provides an added incentive for the classics. Once again van Klink is the defending trophy holder, however his failure to finish at the Otago Classic means that this year the fight for the silverware will be between Buist and Judd.

But this isn’t just about the three top seeded drivers. An interesting selection of cars and drivers will be heading for the gravel. As usual there will be plenty to delight the fans of the once again ubiquitous Escort with just over half the field showing varying versions of this car, including the pair of RS1800s driven by Tony Gosling and Scott Melville.

But there will also be a selection of others to delight the senses, a brace of RX7s, including one driven by Kingsley Jones, the RX3 of regular competitor Roger Goss, the Lancer Turbos of Deborah Kibble and Jason Timmins, and Barry Varcoe in his Toyota Celica. Meaning that there will be battles within battles throughout the field, keeping the spectators entertained.

So while the modern machinery will be ploughing through the gravel at the head of the rally, the real sideways action will start at car number 20. With three evenly matched drivers and three titles up for grabs, the motivation is high, and the resulting display of rally driving will be spectacular.

For rally information, maps and entry lists, head to www.rallywairarapa.co.nz for more information.

Photo: Jody Seabright

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