Christchurch’s Matt Summerfield has powered his Mitsubishi Mirage AP4 weapon to victory in the 20th rendition of the Catlins Coast Rally.
Summerfield finished 38.8 seconds ahead of Andrew ‘Duggie’ Graves having clinched four of the six special stages, boasting a 50-second-plus lead over his nearest competitor at one point despite spinning in the day’s opening stage.
Summerfield was elated with his near impeccable performance throughout the rest of the rally, saying his victory makes up for the heartbreak he has suffered at the storied event over the last two years.
“We had a really good day, you have to drive pretty hard to beat Duggie”, said Summerfield.
“We had a spin in the first stage and I had to change what I was doing but the day went pretty smoothly. It was a good battle and it is a great event. Duggie really kept the pressure on.
“This makes up for the last two years. In 2018 we were going well and had a problem and last year we went off the road. I have to thank everyone behind the effort, even my sister Nicole who vacated the co-driver seat to let my sponsor and friend Jared Christofferson sit with me. Jared and I had driven together for those last two years and I got him on board again because we were going to get this bloody thing.”
Graves put in a sublime final stage to slice Summerfield’s lead by over 15 seconds to hang onto second in his Mitsubishi Evo 3.
A four-time winner of the Catlins Coast Rally, Graves conceded Summerfield’s consitent performance over all six stages put his chance of a fifth victory too far out of reach.
“Credit to Matt, he did very well,” said Graves. “We are happy with second and Hayden and everyone who helped me did a great job.”
Three minutes down in the leading duo was Regan Ross who scored the final podium spot in his spanking new Fiesta R5.
Behind Ross was three-time winner of the event Dean Bond and Josh Marston who took his first Catlins Coast start in over a decade to round out the top five.
Running as a ‘test vehicle’ and thus not recorded on the official leaderboard, fan favourite Hayden Paddon unfortunately had to park up his Hyundai i20 AP4 after just two stages.
Another big blow was Robbie Stokes who had his day scuppered with an oil leak after two stages having ensconced himself comfortably within podium contention.
Dean Bond claimed class honours in the 4-wheel-drive D class while Matthew Wright took out the Pre-1996 4WD victory.
Other class winners included Chadwick (1301-1600cc), NZRC champion Ben Hunt in class H, Brendon Mitchell in Class F (0-1700cc) and Stephen Gill in class G (1701cc+).
Images: Terry Marshall and Euan Cameron