Christchurch driver Jeff Judd and his co-driver Mark Smith continue to lead the 2014 epay Silver Fern Rally after the third day saw the cars travel from Westport to Christchurch with six high speed Special Stages throughout the day.
The duo lead the Historic Trophy by 1 minute 12 seconds from UK visitors Vince Bristow/Dean Mitchell with the rally’s early leader Brent Rawstron/Ian McKee of Christchurch third. Fourth is another British visitor, Simon Tysoe who took the place in the final stage of the day after Frank Cunningham of Ireland left the road. The top four drivers are all driving Ford Escort’s, the first non-Ford being the Nissan 240RS of Australian John Spencer in fifth place. Palmerston North driver Kevin Blackley has bounced back from losing his car keys at the start of the rally and a couple of punctures to be sixth after three of eight days.
Judd was happy to have maintained his lead at the end of day Service Park and like many others said the final stage had been tough on brakes and tyres. Bristow had a close call with a bridge early in the day while amongst the frantic activity at the Service Park Brent Rawstron’s crew were replacing a bent diff, a legacy of an ‘off’ on Sunday. The veteran is trying to get through this years Silver Fern without stopping in a Special Stage. “Leading the event after the first day on Saturday was just a total bonus,” he says.
Apart from Cunningham’s accident at the end of the day there were plenty of other problems for competitors today. John Coker of Karaka lost a wheel off his Skoda and Special Stage 17 of the rally saw Richard Arrowsmith’s car drop onto 3 cylinders while Chairman of the event and competitor, Gary Smith of Hamilton, blew a diff. However there was a good news story from overnight with Graham Samuel of the United Kingdom getting back into the event after getting the use of the local Mitsubishi agent’s premises in Westport.
Dave Strong and Rob Scott of Auckland continued to lead the Challenge Section for more modern 2-wheel-drive cars today after taking the lead yesterday in their Honda Civic R. By the end of the day they had stretched their lead to over three and a half minutes. Garry Adcock and Mark Dalton of Nelson were second in their BMW M3 CSL while Brodie Anderson and Rob McConachie of Dunedin had climbed to third by day’s end. Brent Taylor of Cambridge and Chris Woedenberg of Auckland have been quick throughout the rally but have suffered several problems along the way. Two other frontrunners, Charlie Evans of Hamilton and Bruce Herbert of Palmerston North, also struck problems today.
Day 4 will see the cars leave from the Palms Mall in Christchurch at 8.00am with three stages before a lunchtime Service Park at Duvauchelle School. Four more stages follow in the afternoon before the cars arrive at Caroline Bay in Timaru at 5.10pm.