Fifty-five drivers from six different countries driving fourteen different marques ranging from Skoda to BMW will converge on the South Island of New Zealand next month for the 2014 epay Silver Fern Rally.
Drivers will come from New Zealand, England, Australia, Scotland, Kenya and Ireland with almost one third of the entries coming from overseas. The event consists of the New Zealand Silver Fern Historic Trophy for 2-wheel-drive cars, the New Zealand Silver Fern Challenge which caters for 2-wheel-drive cars that comply with the Motorsport New Zealand Schedule A safety requirements and the Silver Frond which takes place over the last three days of the event only.
The amount of talent in the three events is showcased by the top two seeds in the Historic field. Two legends of New Zealand rallying, Cantabrians Jeff Judd and Brian Stokes are both entered in Ford Escort RS1800’s which numerically are the strongest make in the field. Judd won the Historic Section in 2010 and has been successful in many forms of motorsport. Stokes was the New Zealand Rally Champion in both 1985 and 1988 and placed as high as sixth in his many Rally NZ campaigns while he also won the 2006 Silver Fern Rally.
Other well known kiwis in the historic entry list are Shane Murland of Paraparaumu, Brent Rawstron of Christchurch, Bruce Herbert of Palmerston North – a four-time New Zealand Rally Champion, Allan Dippie of Dunedin, Gary Smith of Hamilton, Ian Begg of Cromwell and John Coker of Karaka in a Skoda. Murland, Rawstron and Smith will all pilot Escorts in the event while Herbert will drive a Lancer EX Turbo. Dippie will be at the wheel of the Porsche formerly driven by the late Willie Rutherford and Begg will be in his Volkswagen Golf Gti.
Nine from the UK will contest the Historic section, the leading entrants being Vince Bristow and Simon Tysoe in Escort RS1800’s. From Galway in Ireland comes Frank Cunningham while Iain Freestone, who has rallied successfully all over the world, is entered out of Kenya. From Australia there are four, the best known Keith Callinan in an Escort while John Spencer will be in the ex Tony Teesdale Nissan 240RS. Father and son John & David Hills round out the Aussie contingent, David having finished 3rd in the 2012 event in the North Island.
The Challenge field features twelve entries led by well known kiwi Dave Strong with co-driver Rob Scott alongside. Several other well known names from the New Zealand rally scene are also in the field while from the UK Jacob Scannell has entered in a Suzuki Swift while Aussie legend Ed Mulligan will be in a BMW 325i. Another father and son team are Garry and Kayne Adcock, Garry in the spectacular BMW M3 CSL, while Kayne is in a Toyota Starlet.
The shorter Silver Frond which starts in Dunedin on the third to last day of the event has attracted an entry of ten cars with again some well known names, Cantabrian Deane Buist (Historic winner in 2012) heads the seedings in his Escort with names such as Gary Cliff (Datsun 160J), James Hewlett (Ford Escort RS1800), Deb Kibble of Waimate, the first New Zealand woman to win the National Group N rally Championship, Tony Quinn of Highlands Motorsport Park fame, Nigel Barclay and Grant Aitken all lining up. Yet another Father and son John Keast and George Keast from Invercargill will both drive Ford Escorts, John a MK II and young George a MK I version.
Nine drivers have competed in all 5 of the modern day Silver Fern events, held bi-annually since 2006, while in 2014 there are 17 first timers, including UK drivers Phil Squires, John Taylor, and Richard Arrowsmith all in their own specially imported Ford Escorts, while Rikki Proffit will drive a locally prepared Toyota Corolla.
The standing of the event in the world wide rallying community is what brings so many international drivers to New Zealand, Australian driver Callinan recently describing the epay Silver Fern Rally as “the pinnacle.”
The epay Silver Fern Rally 2014 will start from Picton on Saturday 8 November 2014. That night competitors will stay in Blenheim before crossing the island the following day to overnight in Westport on Sunday night. Competitors will then head back across the island on Monday to spend the following evening in Christchurch. Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill are the destinations for the next three nights before the rally travels into the magnificent southern lakes area with a Friday night stopover in Wanaka. The rally ends on Saturday 15 November in Queenstown.
The rally will cover 1150 kilometres of competitive Special Stages over eight days and organisers are promising some new stages and new locations along with some roads that have been used previously but in differing configurations. The epay Silver Fern Rally provides competitors with a fantastic rally experience amidst some awe inspiring scenery.
For more information on the event visit www.silverfernrally.co.nz
The rally enjoys support from epay, Malcove, HiFX, Pure Commerce, Kiwimaps, Christchurch City Council and Brita Safety.
Photos: Ken Baillie, Kate Ridder, Geoff Ridder
Roger Baillie (@Rojn8r)
Via Media release