Father, daughter team line up for Hanmer rally

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Rangiora’s Graham Wilson and daughter Leanne Jolly are gearing up to tackle the Hanmer Springs Royce Watson Memorial Hanmer Rally next weekend in their 1300cc Toyota Starlet.
Graham, a veteran rally driver is well versed in tackling the gravel roads around the South Island and is generally on or near a podium finish in the Class 1, 0-1300cc.
In recent events he has had to play second fiddle to Chris Herdman, his former co-driver.
‘‘It will be a good battle between me and him. I taught him too well.
‘‘He has got a good quick little car and he will keep us on our toes.
‘‘He beat me last year by three seconds.
He has a wee Starlet too so its going to be a good battle,’’ says Graham.
Graham began rallying back in 1975 for six or seven years but gave it away for 25 years ‘‘when we had kids’’.
‘‘Now my daughter, Leanne, is rallying with me. It is really cool,’’ says Graham, who was first in the 1300 class in the Canterbury rally in the Ashley Forest back in May.
The pair headed down to the Catlins, but broke a camshaft so were unable to finish.
Graham says while top drivers are expected at the Autosport Club rally at Hanmer Springs, which for the first time will be part of the Mainland series, it is a club man’s rally and a ‘‘training ground for newbies’’ that haven’t done rallies before and need a rally to learn the ropes.
‘‘We try to educate and help people as much as we can there,’’ he says.
Entries have closed at the maximum of 50 with competitors coming from as far afield as Dunedin, Nelson and Blenheim.
Local driver Matt Summerfield will be back at Hanmer Springs with his Subaru Empreza to contest the Class 4, 4WD after an impressive rallying season, along with Richard Bateman of Blenheim with his Mitsubishi Evo while Rex Ford of Cheviot is gearing up to tackle the rally in his Datsun 180B (Class 3, 2WD).
The rally comprises of about 70 kms of special stages and around 70 kms of touring. All Special Stages are on good gravel roads.
The first car starts from Rally headquarters, the Five Stags Restaurant and Bar (Formally Hot Springs Hotel) at about 10.30am and finishes at 4.30pm.
Organisers urge people to come along and watch the events and talk to the very ‘‘supportive bunch of rallying nuts’’.
‘‘Lots of girls are involved and rallying is an excellent family sport for all ages,’’ they say.
They say events range from Autocross, gravel sprints to rallies.