Vince Bristow/Dean Mitchell of the United Kingdom have won the Historic Trophy in the 2014 epay Silver Fern Rally which ended in Queenstown this afternoon.
In doing so they created history as they became the first international crew to win the event since it was instigated in 2006. The rally has taken place every second year since that time. The pair drove a Bryce Biggs supplied Ford Escort which was the car driven to victory in the Challenge Section of the event two years ago.
Bristow and Mitchell had a brief stint in the lead earlier in the week before Cantabrian Jeff Judd regained the position until Friday morning when he blew an engine. From that point on Bristow had a comfortable lead although he admitted to some nervous moments over the last day and a half. This was Bristow’s fourth attempt at the event. “I’m really chuffed to bits. It’s a great event, fantastic people and a lovely country. This is the fourth time I have done the event and it is good to finally get to the end at the front.”
Bristow had a final margin over fellow Brit Simon Tysoe and his co-driver Craig Dolman of 10 minutes 19 seconds with kiwi driver Shane Murland and co-driver John Benton third. Tysoe was “more than happy and over the moon” with second while Murland said it was “great to make the finish.”
Australians John Spencer/Tony Best (Nissan 240RS), David Hills/Paul Bennett (Ford Escort) and Keith and Mary Anne Callinan in another Escort rounded out the top six.
Meanwhile Dave Strong/Rob Scott of Auckland won the Challenge Section in their Honda Civic R after leading for most of the week. As their rivals struck trouble they extended their lead and finished with a buffer of over 25 minutes over second placed Brodie Anderson/Rob McConachie of Dunedin in a Ford Escort with Charlie Evans/Sue O’Neil of Hamilton third in a Honda Integra.
Strong said it was a “relief” to finish. “It was unfinished business after breaking an axle with 10 kilometres to go two years ago.” Towards the end he and Scott ignored the Challenge result and went all out to seal the third fastest overall time for the entire event which they achieved. Strong said, “we did not have the pace but we kept out of trouble. We were not quite fast enough but others hit trouble, perhaps because they were going too quick.”
Deane Buist/Andrew Bulman of Christchurch won the Silver Frond section which was run over the last three days of the event. Buist, the Historic Trophy winner of the 2012 Silver Fern, had more than 15 minutes in hand over second placed Ashton Wood/Fred Merkin (Upper Moutere) with Garry Cliff/James Cowles of Christchurch third in a Datsun 160J.
Competitors in the Historic Trophy and Challenge Sections of the event left Picton eight days ago and covered 1150 kilometres of Special Stages in Marlborough, Nelson, the West Coast, Canterbury, South Canterbury, Otago, Southland, Central Otago and the Southern Lakes District while the Silver Frond competitors joined the event for the final three days.
1: Vince Bristow/Dean Mitchell (UK) Ford Escort
2: Simon Tysoe/Craig Dolman (UK) Ford Escort
3: Shane Murland/John Benton (Paraparaumu) Ford Escort
4: John Spencer/Tony Best (Australia) Nissan 240RS
5: David Hills/Paul Bennett (Australia) Ford Escort
6: Keith Callinan/Mary Anne Callinan (Australia) Ford Escort
1: Dave Strong/Rob Scott (Auckland) Honda Civic R
2: Brodie Anderson/Rob McConachie (Dunedin) Ford Escort
3: Charlie Evans/Sue O’Neil (Hamilton) Honda Integra
4: Jacob Scannell/Chris Lancaster (UK) Suzuki Swift
5: Ed Mulligan/Catriona Kelly (Australia) BMW 325i
6: Bruce Herbert/Jim Hey (Palmerston North) Mitsubishi Lancer EX Turbo
1: Deane Buist/Andrew Bulman (Christchurch) Ford Escort
2: Ashton Wood/Fred Merkin (Upper Moutere) Ford Escort
3: Garry Cliff/James Cowles (Christchurch) Datsun 160J
4: Kevin Lynch/Wayne Julian (Greymouth) Toyota Corolla AE86
5: Nigel Barclay/Mark Leonard (Christchurch) Ford Escort MKI
6: Deborah Kibble/Heather Johnston (Waimate) Mitsubishi Lancer EX Turbo