The Otago Rally has a long and successful history

The Dunedin Isuzu Otago Rally is the first round of the 2018 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 2017 event was won by David Holder in a Hyundai i20 AP4, while, for the second year in a row, the Classic Rally went to former WRC stars Markko Martin (Estonia) and Stephane Prevot (Belgium) in a Ford Escort RS1800.

Hayden Paddon 2016 Otago RallyHayden Paddon is a regular entrant in the Otago Rally, and rates at as his favourite event. Photo: Peter Whitten

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, Bjorn Waldegard from Sweden, and France's Didier Auriol, 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.

Former Subaru World Rally Team test driver, Pasi Hastrom, won the 2008 edition of the event in a Porsche 911, while South Islander Derek Ayson has been the man to catch in recent years, winning in 2009 and 2010 in his Nissan-engined Ford Escort.

In 2011 the star of the show was the 1981 World Rally Champion, Ari Vatanen. The Flying Finn drove a Ford Escort RS1800, co-driven by Italian Fabrizia Pons - and was set for victory until a last altercation with a gate post saw him retire. For a full list of Otago Rally winners, click HERE.

Markko Martin 2017 Otago RallyEstonia's Markko Martin won the Otago Classic Rally in 2016 and 2017. Photo: Peter Whitten

The 2018 event, to be held from April 13-15, will be preceded be reconnaissance on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, and a ceremonial rally start in Dunedin’s centre, The Octagon, on Friday night.

The gravel special stages will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 9 and 10, with the Rally of Otago’s traditional mix of challenging stages awaiting competitors.

The event is round one of the 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship and this championship is recognised as one of strongest worldwide.  There will several former champions competing, including current Hyundai factory driver, Hayden Paddon.

The Rally of Otago also incorporates the ‘Allcomers Rally of Otago’. This is a separate event targeted at locals who have cars that are not eligible for either the Classic or NZRC events.

All competitors, including those in the Classic Rally, have the option of purchasing organiser provided ‘computer generated’ pacenotes (using the Swedish “Jemba” system). For those that purchase the notes a one pass convoy reconnaissance is available.

For full details on the 2018 Otago Rally, including stage and spectator maps, see our RALLY INFO page here.