Two members of the Eastern Southland Car Club, Duncan McCrostie from Kaitangata and Gore's Andrew Graves, will contest New Zealand's round of the World Rally Championship Rally New Zealand this week.
McCrostie will drive his familiar Nissan Bluebird turbo with Graves in the co-driver's seat in the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally, part of the event which takes place from tomorrow until Sunday on roads in the Auckland and Northland regions.
McCrostie and Graves are both contesting the Historic National Championship this season, part of the 2012 NZ Rally Championship, of which Rally NZ is the fourth round.
Currently the duo are placed second, behind Marcus Van Klink of Christchurch.
Rally NZ presents a daunting challenge for the pair with 413 kilometres of high speed competition over three days.
While it is a massive task, at least McCrostie has had some experience at Rally NZ. However, that was about 15 years ago in a Mitsubishi EVO 1 and much of the rally route has changed since, although a small portion of the stages from that time remain.
For Graves it is his first Rally NZ.
"We are currently second in the championship behind Marcus and we need to put some pressure on him. I have always wanted to run in a National Championship and we are finally doing it this year," said McCrostie this week.
Both he and Graves have a pedigree of motorsport success. McCrostie has racked up many class honours in various events and championships in the Bluebird, while he has also been extremely successful in a specially modified Mitsubishi EVO in southern hillclimbs.
Graves also has experienced much success, both as a driver and a co-driver, winning various championships including Rally Xtreme 2-wheel-drive honours and Mainland Series titles as a co-driver and two Laird Motorsport Southern Rally Series as a driver. The pair continue a fine tradition that Eastern Southland Car Club members have set in Rally New Zealand over many years.
Well-known names from the club that have contested New Zealand's premier rally include Graham Crawford, a class winner in 1980, Rob Gerrard, Ian Begg, the late Darryl Robinson, Bill Sutherland, Inky Tulloch and Wade Paterson.
Dean Bond and Ian Stevenson also competed in the event, both driving Nissan Bluebird turbos similar to McCrostie's car.
Bond and Stevenson were a part of the team that won the Dealer Team Prize for Nissan at that time.
- © Fairfax NZ News