Ayson heading north for Kielder Forest debut
The lure of the Pirelli International Rally and the opportunity to drive the legendary Kielder Forest stages has persuaded New Zealand’s Derek Ayson to travel the 12,000 miles from home.
Ayson will head to Cumbria and join a host of the UK’s top rally stars for the Carlisle based event on April 27.
Although vastly experienced, Ayson has won all New Zealand’s major rallies including the prestigious Silver Fern Marathon. He has also won the Otago Classic Rally three times and competed successfully in Australia.
He has never rallied in the United Kingdom, in fact, his trip over for the Pirelli International will be his first ever visit to the Northern Hemisphere.
He will be using a Ford Escort supplied by Welsh ace Merion Evans, with whom he enjoyed a close battle on the 2016 Silver Fern Rally, which ended with Derek taking the “Challenge” category and Merion winning the Historic section.
The pair became good friends over the 7 day, 1000 kilometre event and when Merion offered him the use of his car, Derek, naturally, jumped at the opportunity.
The 47-year old real estate agent will find the Kielder Forest tracks vastly different from the smooth gravel roads that are a feature of New Zealand’s events.
He will, however, have the benefit of the experienced Sam Collis guiding him through the stages.