Hoping for better fortune

Ready to race . . . Rhys Turner with the Toyota Starlet he will drive in Saturday's Catlins Coast Rally. PHOTO: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

One Dunedin driver hopes his 2017 Catlins Coast Rally is an improvement on last year’s effort when he competes this Saturday.

Rhys Turner (22), of Green Island, entered the 2016 event, only for mechanical failure to prevent him from finishing.

“I broke my gear box halfway through the rally.”

That was disappointing after Turner’s hard work to prepare his Toyota Starlet for last year’s event.

“It’s pretty gutting. I spent probably six weeks before the rally gearing up for it.”

This time around, Turner was just trying to finish in one piece.

After some recent repairs in his father Roy’s South Dunedin automotive shop, he said the Toyota Starlet was in good shape.

“She’s all ready to go.”

His interest in racing started early on as he grew up around the race cars in his father’s workshop. Turner said his favourite drivers were Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon and Kiwi V8 Supercar competitor Scott McLaughlin.

Turner was impressed by Paddon’s recent achievements on the international stage, which included being the first New Zealander to win a round of the World Rally Championship, when he won the Rally of Argentina in April 2016.

“It’s pretty incredible. It’s definitely next level.”

Time and money were the biggest challenges around rallying, he said.

“Worst part about a rally’s the financial, trying to save up enough and then once you get past that, trying to find enough time to spend on the car to make it all right and try and make it seem presentable.”

It had taken him the “better part” of two years to get his Toyota Starlet to rally standard.

Installing a roll cage into the vehicle for $2500 cost more than the $2000 vehicle, he said.

Turner’s co-driver is his partner Shannon Eustace.

The 2017 Catlins Coast Rally is based in Owaka.

There were 65 confirmed entries for the rally when The Star went to press.