Charlie Evans of Hamilton is the first kiwi entrant for the 2014 epay Silver Fern Rally. Evans will drive the same Mazda RX7 he used to finish fourth in the 2008 event. Evans is a very experienced competitor, having competed in rallies and rallycross events since 1983. In that time he has a host of highlights including a two-day Targa Rally victory and a win and a second place overall in the Top Half Rally Series. Evans also mentions a unique achievement, both he and the RX7 have finished fourth overall in the six-day Targa and the Silver Fern.
The reason he was the first entry is quite simple. “I know Gary Smith from the rally management team well and I had discussions with him as he mulled the future of the event. After the talk I put my money down to show Gary I was pretty committed to it.”
Evans says he learnt a lot from his first venture into the Silver Fern in 2008. “It turned out that our priorities at the time were not that important. We went into it with a no stone unturned attitude. Twenty percent comes down to luck and we bought some shitty fuel and we did an apex seal. That put us down on power for a few days.” Evans and his crew changed the engine and charged on but the other thing he discovered was that his choice of tyres cost him. “We might have caught third but we tried to keep things simple and went in with one type of tyre. That cost us in the wet on the last couple of days.” However he enjoyed his first taste of the rally. “I loved the South Island,” he says and it is to the south he will return for the 2014 event. Evans will take a different attitude into the 2014 event, gained from his learnings six years ago. “We will put less focus on the last bit of performance and get the thing reliable. Having things go wrong on the first day last time probably reduced the pressure and made it more enjoyable. We went in that year knowing that if everything went well we had a chance that we could win it and when it went wrong it lessened the pressure. This time we will see how it plays out on the first few days and then put the pressure on later.”
One thing that has changed for Evans since he placed that first entry is the fact he has bought a business. “It is going to be quite demanding and I will be relying on the help of a few good friends,” he says.
Evans is a big fan of the event. “There is definitely a place for the Silver Fern in the world, with so many people going back to classic events.”
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 epay Silver Fern Rally 2014 consists of the New Zealand Silver Fern Historic Trophy for 2-wheel-drive cars that comply with various historic criteria as listed in the event regulations and the New Zealand Silver Fern Challenge which caters for 2-wheel-drive cars that comply with the Motorsport New Zealand Schedule A safety requirements. Within each of those sections there are various classes.
The rally will cover 1250 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.
The rally enjoys support from epay, Malcove, Kiwimaps and Brita Safety.