If you live in the South Island it is entirely possible that the epay Silver Fern Rally is coming your way early next month. So what exactly is the Silver Fern? The event is an international rally, a marathon event, rallying the way it used to be. It runs for eight days with 49 high speed Special Stages comprising 1,145 kilometres of testing terrain linked together by 2,470 kilometres of touring stages on public roads where competitors must adhere to normal road rules.
The event is highly regarded throughout the world and accordingly it has attracted a truly international mix of competitors with drivers from England, Scotland, Ireland, Kenya, Australia, and of course New Zealand. Many of them are former champions of the sport, competing in some of the most prestigious events around the world including this one, and many of them still feature at the highest level around the globe.
There are three parts to the event – the Historic Trophy where spectators can enjoy iconic rally cars such as a multitude of Ford Escort’s, a Nissan 240RS, Porsche 911’s, BMW’s, Toyota’s and even a Skoda. The Challenge features 2-wheel-drive cars of a more modern era including Honda’s, Suzuki and even a Holden Commodore while the final part of the event is the Silver Frond, a shorter event which starts in Dunedin on the third to last day of the event.
The event will start in Picton on Saturday 8 November and traverse the Marlborough region before heading to Westport on the West Coast. It then crosses the island to Christchurch where competitors will overnight on Day 3, Monday 10 November. Over the next few days the action will travel down the South Island through Canterbury, South Canterbury, Otago and Southland before reaching into Central Otago and the Southern Lakes region before finishing in Queenstown on Saturday 15 November.
As well as taking the opportunity to watch the cars being driven in anger on the Special Stages the public can also see the cars at Service Parks throughout the event. The Service Parks are in easily accessible sites and there is no charge for the public to see the cars close up as they are being serviced.
Full details of the rally route and maps are available on the event website – www.silverfernrally.co.nz