SHARE
Air time... Rally driver Derek Ayson and co-driver Nikita Gibson get some air in Ayson's MK2 Ford Escort on Shag Valley Back Rd during the 2018 Otago Rally last weekend. PHOTO: RICHARD FARQUHAR

We had a few electrical issues throughout the event but still managed to finish second overall [in the] Classic on Sunday’s stages which we were pretty happy with. –Andrew Graves

It was a mixed bag of results for three Gore drivers at the 2018 Otago Rally earlier this month.

Andrew Graves finished fourth overall, Derek Ayson missed three stages due to mechanical issues while Jim McDonald had to pull out during the third stage.

Graves was co-driver for Joshua Marston in a Holden Barina AP4 and had a “great weekend”.

Unfortunately, team-mate Greg Murphy’s car broke down and was unable to finish, but had been performing well up until then, he said.

“The cars are starting to prove themselves.”

His favourite stage was Kuri Bush – a fast piece of road which “favours the brave, basically”.

“We came out of there unscathed.

The Otago Rally was one of his favourites because “you can’t beat local roads”.

Ayson, and co-driver Nikita Gibson (17), of Dunedin, had a few problems with the engine of his Ford Escort Mk2, so missed three stages.

He bent two valves on Friday which were replaced overnight, had to temporarily withdraw on stage one due to a “bad misfire” and re-joined on stage four to complete the rest of Saturday’s gravel stages.

“We had a few electrical issues throughout the event but still managed to finish second overall [in the] Classic on Sunday’s stages which we were pretty happy with.”

Despite the issues, Ayson “put in some reasonable times” and enjoyed racing.

“A chance to compete alongside current WRC driver Mads Ostberg from Norway and 2016 NZ Silver Fern Historic class winner Meirion Evans from Wales was pretty special as well.

“Otago is the best rally of the season.”

Things did not quite go to plan for McDonald and co-driver Michael Gunn, of Balclutha, either when a crankshaft in his Mitsubishi Evo 5RS broke in half during the third stage.

“It’s just one of those things that happens in a rally,” he said.

He thought about 35 cars did not finish on Saturday, which he put down to the track, mechanical issues and crashes.

“It must mean the roads are pretty good.”

He swapped his racing suit for a camera and took some photos although it was “not the same as sitting in the driver’s seat”.

He is now looking forward to the Canterbury rally in June.