Ayson and Graves reunite for rally

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Rally car drivers Derek Ayson and Andrew Graves, both of Gore, will re-create their dream team at the end of the month.

The pair are set to head to Australia to compete in The Alpine Rally from December 1-3.

Ayson will drive in the two-wheel-drive marathon rally in Lakes Entrance, a coastal town in Eastern Victoria, while Graves will co-drive.

Two New Zealand drivers and their co-drivers are attending the rally – Ayson with co-driver Graves and Christchurch man Deane Buist with co-driver Karl Celeste.

Burnouts… Derek Ayson was in Ed Mulligan’s Escort last year at the Boarder Ranges Rally in Australia. PHOTO: BOARDER RANGES

Ayson and Graves were invited to the event by rally car driver and their “good friend” Ed Mulligan.

“He offered his Escort to use. I used it last year in 2016 and won the classics in it,” Ayson said.

“He’s a really generous guy . . . you are always a bit more careful with someone else’s car,” he said.

Although the trip was for “fun”, Ayson said he would really like the opportunity to drive Mulligan’s car again and to drive with Graves again.

“I also decided it would be great if Andrew could co-drive for me. He was my co-driver for probably about eight years from around 1999 to 2007.”

“He’s an exceptional co-driver and driver – there’s not many people that can do both well. He certainly can.”

“It will be great to team up with him. We teamed up at the Otago Rally about two or three years ago and we got second overall in the classics.”

Ayson said the Alpine Rally was a “blind rally”.

” I’m driving it as I see it.

“There are no pace notes for the co-driver, only tulips, so hopefully Andrew doesn’t get too bored.”

Ayson said he expected the rally to be “full of trees, hot and dusty”.

“We will open the roof vent and then all the dust comes in so it’s a win-lose type of thing really.”

So far there were 130 entries in the rally and Ayson and Graves were ranked 7th.

“That’s pretty cool . . . we are definitely going to give it our best shot. Deane [Buist] will be hard to beat as he will be in his own car over there with him.”

Overall it would be a good time regardless of the results, Ayson said.

“Everybody gets on and it’s a lot of fun.”

Co-driver Graves said this would be his first rally in Australia.

“It will be hot and dusty like Derek said, but mostly I’m looking forward to it,” Graves said.