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Day 5 of the epay Silver Fern Rally sees the teams turn north for the first time and begin their run to the finish in Hamilton on Saturday. This is the time where the cars and competitors are starting to really feel the wear and tear of a marathon rally.

So it’s just the right time to see how well they can cope, by throwing in the longest day of the event, over some of the tightest twisty roads of the whole rally. Leaving Feilding this morning the crews only had to make it to Ohakune, however the convoluted route look them west of Wanganui, before diverting back to Hunterville, covering 202km of competition, including the 74km Turakina Loop.

Yesterday various observations were made about the race not always going to the swift, but the ones who keep running, and how one small mistake or puncture can change your whole rally in an instant. How true those words proved to be.

First stage of the day and both Brian Stokes and Chris Woudenberg prove the point. Stokes by falling off the road and down into the trees. The pop he hears is the sound of his massive 22min lead in the Silver Fern Challenge disappearing, and it takes him until the last stage of the day to rejoin the action.

Second placed Woudenberg also attacks the scenery in the same stage, breaking the steering and spraining his wrist in the process. A complete change of the front suspension later and he is off again, only to be stopped again in the last stage.

The result being that despite Brent Taylor’s mishaps of yesterday and the running repairs needed to the front of his Corolla, he now finds himself back in the Silver Fern Challenge lead and a smart 3min 53sec ahead of Leigh Marston in the Fiesta R2. A consistent run from Donald McPherson in his Nissan Pulsar GTi is rewarded with third.

All of the Silver Fern Historic Trophy competitors seemed to be driving to survive after the dramas of yesterday. The fastest time for the day went to Vince Bristow from East Sussex, however the biggest mover was Jeff Judd has he elevated himself from 8th to 6th.

Despite feeling decidedly sick in the afternoon, Deane Buist retains the lead in the Historic Trophy, even managing second fastest time in the 74km Turakina Loop stage. Thus ensuring he maintains a 5min lead over Shane Murland. Suffolk resident Grant Shand remains third despite losing a minute and a half to Neil Allport over the day.

New to the top 5 is Kevin Blackley, who until now has flown pretty much under the radar, but his consistency and lack of penalties is garnering results. Mind you, with Judd only 6sec behind Blackley, expect a change in the leader board tomorrow.

With the running repairs and tired bodies from an exhausting day it is unlikely the crews will get to enjoy Ohakune in the way you should. Especially as tomorrow brings another 185km of gravel, and another mammoth test in the form of the 76km Waitewhena stage, as the teams head to Taupo via Taumaranui.

Full results are available on www.chrissport.co.nz


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