McRae back for NZ Silver Fern Rally
- 4th September 2008, 12:05pm
Following a previous successful Silver Fern event in 2006, British drivers have spread the word and are returning in greater numbers to compete in the eight-day, high speed gravel event, held around the scenic back roads of the South Island of New Zealand.
Motorsport tourist numbers are growing fast, with New Zealand now hosting a number of major international motor-sporting events, including Repco Rally New Zealand, the V8 Supercars, the Dunlop Otago Classic Rally, Targa Rally NZ, the World Superbikes and the A1 Grand Prix. Silver Fern Rally organisers are now part of this growth.
The 2006 Silver Fern event saw an economic impact return of $6.5 million.
Scotsman Jimmy McRae, father of the late Colin McRae, and marathon rally specialist, Iain Freestone, lead the international entries for 2008. Freestone saying he ‘”loves the New Zealand roads, and this time he plans to finish”, and adds, “as a bonus, I can go fishing after the event is over”.
Christchurch’s Bryce Biggs is one of several local car owners and team managers looking after a number of the British drivers, including McRae, and his Jardine Lloyd Thompson team mate Andrew Barnes, as well as fellow Londoner Peter Smith. Biggs recently spent time in the UK and is still negotiating with other drivers for their attendance.
McRae, who returns regularly to NZ, competed in the 2006 NZ Silver Fern event, holding third place until a crash dropped him down the list of finishers, while Barns is a regular competitor in the Classic East African Safari Rally.
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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