The DriveSouth Otago Rally is the first round of the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship. This component of the event features New Zealand’s leading competitors in modern, state-of-the-art 4WD turbo rally cars, including the new and exciting AP4 cars.
The event also incorporates the International Classic Otago Rally, for pre-1982, 2WD cars. This event has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 1997, to the point where it is the leading event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 2016 event was won convincingly by Hyundai WRC star, Hayden Paddon, in a brand new Hyundai i20 AP4, while the Classic Rally went to former WRC stars Markko Martin (Estonia) and Stephane Prevot (Belgium) in a Ford Escort RS1800.
The special guest competitor for the 2014 in Classic Rally was double World Champion Didier Auriol, from France. Auriol was a star of the WRC, driving for Lancia and Toyota, and contested the event in a Ford Escort RS1800 prepared by the Rossendale Rally Team.
In recent years the Otago Classic Rally has attracted former World Rally Champions Miki Biasion (Italy), Ari Vatanen, Juha Kankkunen and Hannu Mikkola from Finland, and Bjorn Waldegard from Sweden, as well as international stars Pasi Hagstrom, Piero Liatti, Jimmy and Alister McRae and Alex Fiorio. A strong contingent of Australians have also been regulars at the event over the past 10 years, including Ross Dunkerton, Greg Carr, Geoff Portman and Neal Bates.
In 2005 the event was won by Jimmy McRae from Scotland, who just pipped 2004 winner Pasi Hagstrom from Finland for the title. In 2006 Hagstrom had his revenge and won the event for the second time after McRae succumbed to the tricky public roads, rolling his Ford Escort into retirement.
In 2007 it was the turn of talented Christchurch (NZ) driver, Deane Buist, to taste success. After showing plenty of speed in recent years, Buist put it all together to comprehensively beat former Lancia and Ford WRC driver, Alex Fiorio.