Gore rally driver Andrew Graves is ‘‘chuffed’’ to win a rally named after a driver he has looked up to for many years.
On Saturday Graves and co-driver son Hayden won the MLT Barry Robinson Memorial Wyndham Rally.
The inaugural car rally was held on the back roads near Wyndham.
The Wyndham Rally was held from 1977 to 1998.
The Eastern Southland Car Club resurrected the event and named it after Robinson, a longtime competitor of the club who died last year.
Robinson farmed nearby at Mokoreta and for many years took part in rallies throughout New Zealand.
Graves dominated Saturday’s event, winning four out of the five special stages.
He was ‘‘really chuffed’’ to win the rally.
‘‘As a young fellow we used to go out and watch [Robinson] rallying.
‘‘Growing up as a kid I always looked up to him and he always kept an eye on us, too, once we started our motorsport career.
‘‘[He was] an icon of my childhood, so it’s an absolute privilege to have our name on his trophy.’’
Carter Strang and co-driver Stewart Robbie, both of Wallacetown, were second.
Graves, top seed for the rally, did not get the start he wanted in the first stage. ‘
‘Hayden and I were a bit slow out of the gate this morning.’’
At the Catlins Rallysprint last month, he had damaged his Mitsubishi Evo 3, which made him a little tentative.
“So [I] probably took a little bit of getting my head around that and getting back into the groove.’’
However, he made up the time in the second stage with a ‘‘real blinder’’.
He was impressed with the rally layout, which covered 110km of shingle roads and a forestry section.
‘‘The cool thing about it [is] it’s a new rally with new stages . .. and puts everybody on a level playing field.’’
He imagined Robinson would think the rally was ‘‘outstanding’’.
Hayden Graves said while he would sooner have been driving himself he enjoyed the ride.
‘‘Lot of skids, a lot of fun, just throwing the car around — just loved it.’’
Rally secretary Roger Laird said it was a special event which Robinson’s family attended.
Fifty-one drivers started the event, and came from as far away as Nelson.
‘‘We had 45 finish — most were mechanical damage,’’ Mr Laird said.
He was grateful for the support the rally received, especially from rural community members who were inconvenienced by the closure of roads on the rally route.
There was a ‘‘will’’ to run the event again, but it was too soon to make that decision, he said.