Rally driver back where it all began

Strapped in ... Derek Ayson will race David Kirk’s Ford Fiesta Proto at the Barry Robinson Memorial Rally in October. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

From the moment Derek Ayson stepped out of his first ride in a rally car, he was hooked.
Twenty-three years later he is still behind the wheel at the same rally his journey started at.
Earlier this month Ayson raced in the Catlins Rally Sprint, a race he first competed at in 2000.
Him and co-driver Gavin McDermott placed fourth at the Saturday leg of the race.
‘‘We were happy to do just one day as a bit of a test.’’
Ayson, who had not raced in a while, admitted he was slightly nervous on race day.
‘‘I’d been out of the seat for a while but it was nice to still be competitive.’’
At the rally he drove a Ford Fiesta Proto, lent to him by David Kirk.
The body of the car was a Ford Fiesta while the engine and sub-frame came from a Mitsubishi Evo VI.
‘‘It looks like a Ford Fiesta but it runs like an Evo. It feels like driving a WRC [World Rally Championship] car.’’
The car had a maximum speed of about 180kmh.
In October, Ayson and McDermott will drive again in the Barry Robinson Memorial Rally, in Wyndham.
Robinson won the Otago Rally in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1991 and won the Southland Rally in 1983 and 1985.
The October rally was organised to commemorate the death of the Wyndham rally driver last year.
Robinson was a good friend, Ayson said.
‘‘Barry was my inspiration to go rallying.
‘‘It’s a pretty special event for me and a lot of people.’’
Ayson will drive the Ford Fiesta Proto in the memorial rally.

en16RallyAyson.Jpg Left turn. . . Gore driver Derek Ayson driving David Kirk’s 4WD Ford Fiesta Proto takes anintersection in stage one of the Catlins Rallysprint on Saturday. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON