Targa Rally driver Derek Ayson and co-driver Gavin McDermott, both of Gore, were in good spirits after completing the first stages of the rally on Tuesday, despite their car having a broken alternator.
At the noon break at the Gore A&P Showgrounds, the drivers and their team were busy trying to repair the broken alternator.
“The alternator’s broken straight off – it’s not an easy fix,” McDermott said.
Ayson praised Gore engineer Craig Cormack, who came to their rescue.
“Craig’s just been able to come around and help out our team, which is great because I certainly don’t know what I am doing – I’m hopeless on the old tools,” Ayson said.
“We have an absolutely fantastic team, who are working hard to get us back up and running in no time – we can’t thank them enough.”
McDermott said the team would have been slapped with a small time penalty if they hadn’t been able to fix the alternator before the next stage.
Despite their car troubles, both men were pleased with their performance in the classic two-wheel-drive class so far, the pair in second place.
“We won stage 2, which was really good. We came second in the other couple of stages,” McDermott said.
“I think we’re within about 15 seconds of the head of class.”
Stage 3 of the race had been cancelled because of a lack of marshalls.
Ayson said he was feeling great about the team’s position and the highlight so far had been driving Diamond Peak Rd.
“I’ve driven that road hundreds and hundreds of time, so it was great to be able to do that in this rally,” he said.
The tarmac rally was much faster than gravel rallies.
“There’s a big difference – we’re going at 200km a lot more than what I thought we would be,” McDermott said.
“It’s really fast going on tarmac compared to the gravel – it’s a good experience,” Ayson said.
He was delighted the rally had come through Gore as it was great for economy of the town, he said.
“It’s pretty amazing to be able to show off our town and head through Southland on this rally.”
They were grateful for the support the team had received from the Eastern Southland community.
“We really appreciate everybody who has got out there and been supporting us – the local support in this region is great,” Ayson said.
The Targa Rally started in Invercargill on Tuesday and has been travelling through Southland and Otago. It finishes at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell tomorrow.