Derek Ayson came, saw and conquered in his first and final Silver Fern Rally.
The marathon rally wrapped up in Christchurch on Sunday after racing throughout the lower half of the South Island last week.
Ayson said this year was an ideal time for him to tick the rally, which included an overnight stay in Gore, off his bucket list.
Not only can he tick off competing but he can also do so as winner of the Challenge Rally class.
It was not a solo effort, however. Ayson acknowledged the work of his crew who helped him make it to the finish line in his Ford Escort.
“My crew and team, co-driver Gavin McDermott and Paul Clarkson, Richard Clarkson, Casey McEwan and Shannon Crawford, were absolutely outstanding. They kept the car running like clockwork. We had a few small issues that were sorted quickly so that we could continue driving as fast as we could.”
Ayson said he could not have done it without them.
The rally was a one-off event for Ayson and a huge amount of preparation and organisation had gone into it.
He believed the turning point came in the Catlins when one of his main competitors, Dave Strong, crashed out of the event.
“Credit to Dave who was our main competition and drove extremely well on our own local roads,” he said.
Ayson said the event was exceptionally well put together but he would not be back to defend his title.
“It is a big commitment to enter the rally with a lot of time and money put in, but I will be around for the usual events like Otago and Catlins rallies next year.”