Five Waikato based rally teams are amongst the 56 entries for the eight day NZ Silver
Fern International Marathon Rally, which gets underway in Christchurch on October 16.

The event, which features predominantly classic and two wheel drive rally cars, has drawn 17 entrants from the UK, Europe and Australia including five times British Champion,  Scotland’s Jimmy McRae, who will drive a locally prepared 1978 Ford Escort MKII.

Hamilton’s Mazda expert, Charlie Evans, and his Taupo co-driver, Paul Matthews, have
converted Evans' RX7 from its specialist tarmac setup, to one which he says will be
equally competitive on the 50, gravel, high speed special stages on the South Island event.  In the last five years of competition on tarmac, Evans has never finished outside the top four  overall. He will start the Silver Fern event from the number 9 position this year.

Silver Fern Rally chairman, Gary Smith, will drive in the event, as well as being
one of the key organisers. He and his Wellington co-driver, Richard Skilton, have been
seeded 41st, and will drive Smith’s MKI BDA Ford Escort. Smith’s car has been built specially for the event, with his two sons, Troy and Adrian, as project managers. The car was tried out for the first time on the recent Possum Bourne Memorial Rally, which was part of Repco Rally NZ.

Gary is quoted as saying “I am extremely proud of the car that my two sons Troy and
Adrian have provided me with, and I hope that I can live up to their expectations. It’s been a very long time since I have driven one of these old cars and 1200km of stages is a very long way.”

International marathon rally competitor, and Hamilton business owner, Nelson Marshall, will use his Ford Capri RS3100 int his year's event, a similar car to the one he used on the 2006 Silver Fern event. Marshall has competed in the 2003 London to Sydney and 2006 Carrera Sudamericana marathon rallies, and enjoys endurance events which he says “allows plenty of time to sort the men from the boys”.

Marshall has been involved in motorsport since beginning in go-karts in 1962. Finishing
12th overall on the 2006 Silver Fern event, he and his Hamilton co-driver, Allan Glenn, will this time start from position 31.

Cambridge’s Donald McPherson and Warwick Levis have entered a Nissan Pulsar NI4,
which has been purpose-built for the event, and will start the event from 46th position. Originally rallying in the UK in the 1970’s, McPherson has driven and co-driven many times on NZ’s Targa rallies.

The fifth of the Waikato entrants is another Hamiltonian, Ken Arnold, who with co-driver, Lynita Hill, (Hamilton) will drive a 1973 Toyota Corolla from the number 47 position in the field. Arnold is new to rallying, with his first event just over a year ago in Tauranga.

The 2008 NZ Silver Fern International Marathon Rally, held over eight days in New Zealand’s South Island, is the longest duration motorsport event currently being held in NZ, and takes its roots from the Silver Fern and Heatway Rallies of the late 1960's and early 1970's.

The October 16 - 23 event will start in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, and take
competitors south to Queenstown, Dunedin, and Invercargill, back to Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch, before finishing at the new Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim.

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