1981 World Rally Champion, Ari Vatanen, has shown that he's still got it by leading the DriveSouth Rally of Otago after the event's first nine stages in New Zealand.

Australian Stewart Reid set the initial pace in his Escort, but when the Reid's gearbox failed at the start of the penultimate 47.40km Berwick stage, it moved Vatanen into the lead.

Vatanen then showed his class, winning the day's longest stage by 27 seconds, and beating last year's winner, Derek Ayson, by 35 seconds.

Jeff Judd lies in third place in another Escort, ahead of Aussie Jeff David's Porsche 911, and local Duncan McCrostie in a Nissan Bluebird turbo.

Photos to follow

International Classic Rally of Otago after Day 1

1. A. Vatanen / F. Pons, Ford Escort RS1800, 1h32m25.1s
2. D. Ayson / G. Scott, Ford Escort FJ2000, +1m33.9s
3. J. Judd / G. Marra, Ford Escort RS1800, +1m59.5s
4. J. David / G. Geelan, Porsche 911, +2m21.3s
5. D. McCrostie / M. Marshall, Nissan Bluebird Turbo, +3m08.1s

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