A 40 year veteran of rallying has the lead of the Historic Trophy section of the 2014 epay Silver Fern Rally after Day 1 of the event in Marlborough today.
Brent Rawstron and co-driver Ian McKee of Christchurch lead fellow Cantabrian, 2010 winner Jeff Judd and co-driver Mark Smith, by 17 seconds after five Special Stages. Vince Bristow and Dean Mitchell of the UK are the first of the internationals in third place. All three drive Ford Escort RS1800’s. Shane Murland of Paraparaumu, and Brian Stokes of Waikuku, round out the top five after the first of eight days.
After 2010 winner Judd won the opening stage Rawstron won the next three to establish his lead before Judd won again on the final stage.
Rawstron admitted the conditions helped him as the road was swept of gravel by the time he tackled each stage after starting eleventh on the road. “We made the most of it but we took no risks. The tyre wear caught us unawares though, Stage 2 was very steep and the tyre smoke was getting in the car.”
Meanwhile Judd was “really happy” with his day. “We were sweeping the gravel but it showed what we could do when we won the last stage which had already been used earlier.” Judd’s crew were trying to trace a clutch problem at the final Service Park of the day.
Meanwhile Brent Taylor/Chris Ramsay of Cambridge lead the Challenge Section of the event in their Toyota FT86 from Nelson driver Garry Adcock/Mark Dalton (BMW M3 CSL) with Dave Strong/Rob Scott of Auckland (Honda Civic Type R) third. Taylor won all but the final stage to have almost a minute in hand at the end of the five stages.
The field left Picton from the official start early this afternoon but not before Kevin Blackley of Palmerston North forgot the keys to his Ford Escort, costing him several minutes while Otago pairing Allan Dippie/Paul Coghill had their Porsche ground to a halt after just 100 metres of the opening stage with a clutch problem.
Canterbury based German, Peter Scharmach, was another temporary withdrawal a little later after a problem on a touring stage.
There are three sections to the event – the Historic Trophy for 2-wheel-drive cars, the New Zealand Silver Fern Challenge which caters for more modern 2-wheel-drive cars and the Silver Frond which takes place over the last three days of the event only.
Tomorrow the cars leave Blenheim at 8.00am and take in three stages before a Service Park at Clarks Recreation Area. Three more stages are scheduled after lunch before a Service Park in Brougham Street, Westport at 5.05pm, an ideal chance to see the cars close up.
The rally will cover 1150 kilometres of competitive Special Stages over eight days before it finishes in Queenstown next Saturday after travelling through Marlborough, Nelson, the West Coast, Canterbury, South Canterbury, Otago, Southland and Central Otago.
Full details of the rally route are available on the event website – www.silverfernrally.co.nz
The rally enjoys support from epay, Malcove, HiFX, Pure Commerce, Kiwimaps, Christchurch City Council and Brita Safety.