Taking his time

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New wheels. . . Gore rally driver Derek Ayson has imported a 1986 Opel Manta which he plans to drive in events once the car meets New Zealand registration standards. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Derek Ayson’s new ride arrived in Port Chalmers in 2020, the day before the nation went into lockdown.

The rally car driver brought the 1986 Opel Manta from Ireland as a replacement for his faithful Ford Escort, which has been sold.

“I’ve had the Escort for a while and had some good results that were hard to beat,” he said.

“But every second person has an Escort and it was time for something different.”

The car was originally a rally car in Ireland, although Mr Ayson did not know much about its history.

He also liked the Manta’s unusual shape, he said.

“Something like this hasn’t been seen on the New Zealand rally track for 30 years,” he said.

It needs modifications to meet New Zealand registration standards before he can use it.

“The roll cage needs to be replaced, and the suspension, engine and gearbox all need an upgrade,” he said.

“I could run it the way it is now with a new roll cage, but I’d like to put my mark on it and I want to do it properly and not rush it.”

Gathering all the parts would take some time, with some being sourced from overseas, including the engine and the gear box.

He hoped it would be ready to run by the next season when he would return after a break from competition.

“Priorities change and I wasn’t competing in as many events as I used, so I’m taking the year off, he said.

“It’s the first year in 20 years that I haven’t competed at the Otago Rally.”

He will continue to be involved in rallies across the country in various roles and did not rule out competing in occasional events when the car is up and running.