All systems go for 2016 Silver Fern Rally
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The sixth New Zealand Silver Fern Rally which starts in Christchurch on Monday.
While the Kaikoura earthquake had some overseas entrants contacting the event organiser about the state of the roads, but Ultimate Rally Group CEO Peter Martin says that no part of the route - which runs from Christchurch in the north to Wyndham (near Gore) in the south - has been directly affected.
"There were obviously a few issues early on around getting cars from the North Island across Cook Strait and to Christchurch but they were resolved quickly and it has been all systems go since then," he said this week.
The first of the new-generation Silver Fern Rally events was organised to celebrate New Zealand's original Silver Fern Rally held in 1969.
Since then the new-era event is now recognised as one of the pre-eminent long distance marathon-type events in the world.
This year's has attracted a 45-strong entry including a number of well-known names from New Zealand and overseas.
Top-seed is British historic rally ace Vince Bristow with co-driver Tim Sayer in a Ford Escort Mk 11 RS 1800. Also in Mk 11 Ford Escorts are the second seed, Shane Murland and John Benton from Wellington, and the third seeded pair and winners of the inaugural 2006 Silver Fern revival event, Brian Stokes with wife Anne co-driving.
The event has also attracted circuit-owner Tony Quinn who will drive a more contemporary Toyota GT 86 with Cassidy Solomon co-driving.
Over the seven days, competitors will complete 1056 km’s of closed, mostly gravel special stages and over 1,700 km of travelling in-between.
Start point of Monday morning is Addington Raceway in Christchurch with first car away at 7.30am.
Since 2006, the week-long revival event has been held every two years, and last year was acquired by the Auckland-based Ultimate Rally Group, which also runs the annual Targa New Zealand tarmac events.