Christchurch’s Jeff Judd led the epay Silver Fern marathon car rally into Invercargill late this afternoon after fending off the challenge of Paraparaumu’s Shane Murland.
Over the day’s six stages totalling 173 kms, Judd and co-driver Mark Smith were just 5 seconds faster than Murland, who had led from Sunday’s Christchurch start to late yesterday when he slid off the road in the Berwick Forest south of Dunedin.
Judd now has a four minutes 2 seconds lead over Murland’s similar Escort RS1800 after five of the seven days.
The pair have outdistanced the field, with third place Geoff Portman, a double Australian champion, now over nine minutes behind Murland after conceding another three minutes 42 seconds today. Portman was not helped by having to stop and change a puncture in the 40 kms stage through the Fortification district in Eastern Southland.
“Those Kiwi guys are too fast,” said fourth placed Englishman Andrew Siddall. “The stages are magic – worth coming to the far side of the world for, but we’re thinking about the finish now. Only two days to go.”
Top seed Geoff Bell from South Africa who struck problems on the first day has finally made it into the top six after a long fight back through the field in his Escort.
Australian Brad Goldsbrough in his Datsun 1600 – with a 2.4 litre engine – is coming under increasing pressure in the Challenge event for cars with greater modifications.
Christchurch’s Deane Buist has halved the gap between the pair today and now lies only 38 seconds behind with two days remaining after leaving Dunedin this morning 1 minute 23 seconds in arrears.
Former Auckland Andrew Hawkeswood, who now calls Alexandra home is in a secure third place, another seven minutes back while Cambridge’s Brent Taylor dropped two places to sixth after an off road excursion in the 47 kms stage through the Catlins Forest Park south of Balclutha.
Tomorrow’s competition includes six stages in Central Southland and Central Otago totalling 182 kms before the overnight halt in Alexandra.
epay Silver Fern Historic Rally – Overall results at end of Day 5
1, J Judd, M Smith (Escort RS1800) Christchurch, 8hrs 1min 08secs;
2, S Murland, J Benton (Escort RS1800) Paraparaumu, 8.05.10;
3, G Portman, R Runnalls (Holden Commodore) Australia, 8.14.13;
4, A Siddall, C Thompson (Escort RS1800) England, 8.17.38;
5, B Rawstron, I McKee (Escort RS1800) Christchurch, 8.21.10;
6, G Bell, T Challen (Escort RS1800) South Africa, 8.28.08.
epay Silver Fern Challenge Rally – Overall results at end of Day 5
1, B Goldsbrough, A Topliff (Datsun 1600) Australia, 8hrs 0min 56secs;
2, D Buist, A Bulman (Escort RS1800) Christchurch, 8.01.34;
3, A Hawkeswood, S Johnstone (Mazda RX7) Alexandra, 8.08.27;
4, L Marston, J Marston (Subaru Legacy) Christchurch, 8.26.31;
5, A Dippie, P Coghill (Toyota Corolla) Dunedin, 8.40.58.
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