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Winning Canterbury Rally combination Josh Marston (left), of Christchurch, and Andrew Graves, of Gore, put in a triumphant effort despite a few hiccups in the initial stages. PHOTO: GEOFF RIDDER

Despite wet, slippery conditions and a puncture, rally driving duo Andrew Graves and Josh Marston took top honours in Canterbury earlier this month.

Graves, of Gore, and Marston, of Christchurch, won the Lone Star Canterbury Rally, in association with Joe’s Garage. The rally, held on June 3, was the third round of the 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship.

Graves co-drove the Holden Barina AP4 2 litre turbo-charged car around the wet course at Ashley Forest near Rangiora.

The pair won the first stage, but stage 2 proved to be a challenge.

The car had a high-speed spin, resulting in a flat tyre.

The pair lost two crucial minutes, which put them in about 11th place overall at that stage, Graves said.

“We limped out of the stage,” he said.

Repairs were carried out and from stage 3, they managed to shave time off each consecutive round, winning stages 3, 4, 5 and 6, and coming in second in stages 7 and 8.

They then won the final two stages 9 and 10, which were held in the dark.

“So that was a bit interesting,” Graves said.

The clawing back of time proved to be a winning recipe for the duo.

They did not not know until stage 10 that they had shaved off enough time to win the rally.

The wet, slippery road conditions through the forestry block proved to be particularly challenging.

“It rewards the brave.”.

But it could be a double-edged sword, leaving casualties behind.

So far Graves was enjoying a good season. As well as taking the Canterbury title, he had recorded a third and fourth placing so far.

The recent win put the duo in third place on points in the New Zealand Rally Championship standings, Graves said.

“It’s been a good season after last year.”

The season was about halfway through, he said.

The car was new last year and some teething problems needed to be sorted, and it seemed the team had now managed to achieve their aim of having a fast, reliable car.

The goal for the season was to place well at Rally New Zealand, which is to be held in Raglan in October.

“If we can do OK in the next few rallies, our points will be OK.”

“At the moment Hayden Paddon is leading [the championship].”

The Holden Barina Rally Sport team also had another car in the Canterbury rally, which was driven by Greg Murphy and co-driver Mark Leonard.

It finished in fourth place.