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With 14 months still to go till the start of the 2008 NZ Silver Fern International Marathon Rally, the first entries have been received by organisers and among them are two UK based International drivers.
From London England, John Lloyd and Andrew Barnes will both drive classic Ford Escort MKII RS1800 cars that have been entered, and will be managed by Christchurch’s Bryce Biggs, for the eight day, 1500km all gravel special stage event, around New Zealand’s South Island.
The cars they will drive here both competed in the last Silver Fern Rally, with Lloyd’s driven by Aussie Greg Poole, the car that was previously a two time Dunlop Otago Classic Rally winner, in the hands of Brian Stokes. Barnes' car finished 9th overall in the 2006 Silver Fern event in the hands of Englishman, Grant Shand.
2008 Silver Fern Rally Chairman, Hamilton’s Gary Smith, said “early indications suggest word is spreading about the successful 2006 event, and we hope that will entice a good number of other international drivers, keen to experience the marathon rallying adventure, and the best of New Zealand’s rally roads.”
Lloyd is no stranger to New Zealand having been here a number of times running Neil Allport Motorsport prepared Mitsubishi and Subaru rally cars, at both Rally New Zealand and Rally Rotorua. It will, however, be Barnes first time here.
Both Lloyd and Barnes are currently competing in 2007 British MSA Gravel Rally Championship, Lloyd in a Ford Focus WRC, with co-driver Pauline Gullick, and Barnes in a Subaru Impreza with co-driver Neil Dashfield.
Lloyd is also a some-time competitor in world classic and marathon rallies and will drive a Datsun 240Z in the 2007 East African Safari Classic in late November, a car loaned to him by past event organiser Mike Kirkland.
Lloyd, was born and grew up in Tanzania and Kenya, and has previously competed in both the 2003 and 2005 East African Safari Classic Rallies finishing 4th driving a Porsche 911 in 2005. Barnes also competed in both events, and finished 4th in a Ford Escort in 2003.
Both drivers have also experienced the lows of marathon rallying in Africa, with Lloyd’s car crashing and burning in last stage of the 2003 event, while Barnes rolled heavily, to put him out of the 2005 event in the very early stages.
The East African Classic Safari Rally in Kenya, is run along similar lines to the Silver Fern event, with longer than usual special stages, and run over a week or more, making them both true Classic Marathon Rallying adventures.
Currently on his way to a testing session in Africa, Lloyd said he was “looking forward to the event, and returning to New Zealand. We wanted to get our entries in early, to make sure we did not miss out.We’ve heard many good things about the last event from our rallying friends in NZ and the UK.”
Lloyd’s co-driver Pauline Gullick added: “We both love coming to New Zealand and it will be great to catch up with our many friends. The Silver Fern Rally will be a new experience for us, as it will be out first time in the South Island.”
The October 16th - 23rd, 2008 event will start in Christchurch, and take competitors to Queenstown, Dunedin, Invercargill, back to Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch before finishing at Scenic Circle Hotels new conference centre in Blenhiem.
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