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An array of historic cars, including a classic Ford Escort and a rotary-powered Mazda, offer rally fans a blast form the past when this year’s 30 March to 1 April Brother International Rally of Whangarei takes place.
 
Using vehicles outside the age and technology parameters of the top tier New Zealand and Asia Pacific rally championship classes, five drivers have entered the historic category of the 2012 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, powered by Brother, this year. These five competitors run as part of the subsidiary and clubman’s fields which drive for class honours with just as much intensity as top tier teams.
 
All competitors use exactly the same rally route – 283.28 km of special stages around Whangarei and Kaipara – with the historic cars seeded behind the APRC and NZRC competitors among a 26-strong subsidiary championship and clubman’s field.
 
Starting mid-field, last year’s historic class champion Ron Davey and co-driver Ross Gordon are returning to defend their title using a 1976 Ford Escort.
 
“My first rally car was an Escort so we’re running the same 2WD class that I knew way back then. There is a lot of sentimental value and it’s really something I’ve dreamed of doing, and now have that opportunity,” says the Hastings-based auto electrician. “We’re better prepared this year I hope. There is a lot more effort going in to the car, to the point I’m building up a low-spec spare car just in case we have a problem.”
 
Known for his spectacular, ‘tail out’, hard-charging driving style is Kaipoi’s Marcus van Klink. With co-driver Dave Neill alongside, van Klink again contests the NZRC historic category in his Group B replica Mazda RX-7 after finished third in category in his debut season last year. Van Klink is the top seed in a rear-wheel-drive car and rally fans with find it’s definitely worth waiting to watch him in action.
 
“Basically we want to go out and win every leg and see how far up the field we can get,” says van Klink. “We have already had a good hit out at Westland rally where we finished fourth, although we were being a bit conservative with Whangarei coming up.”
 
Van Klink and Neill start ahead of historic class rookies Duncan McCrostie and Andrew Graves with the south Otago pairing tackling the Whangarei event in their turbo-charged Nissan Bluebird.
 
Two other teams make their NZRC historic class debut in Whangarei: Auckland’s Ross Clark and co-driver Alistair Wickens in a Toyota Celica RA20 and Hamilton’s Miles McElwain and co-driver Dennis Carson in the Toyota Corolla AE86. A further two teams have entered for the championship but won’t start until the second event in Wairarapa.
 
The subsidiary championship and clubman’s fields will cross the ramp first during Friday’s ceremonial start; this starts at 4.30 pm in the Cameron Street Mall in central Whangarei. From there they will follow the APRC and NZRC cars for the two days of action on roads south of Whangarei toward Maungaturoto before Sunday’s finish ceremony at Whangarei’s Quayside Town Basin from 3 pm. The full entry list, current news, spectator and ticket information and rally map are all available on the event website, www.rallywhangarei.co.nz or follow the event on Facebook.

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