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NZ Silver Fern Rally organisers have this week received entries from five classic Porsche 911s, four from the Francis Tuthill Porsche Team and one from privateer driver Harry Dodd.
All of the cars originate from the UK and according to Tuthill Porsche Team spokesperson Richard Tuthill “all are currently undergoing their final preparations” before being shipped out to New Zealand for the October 7th – 14th South Island marathon rally event.
Tuthill added: “It will be our first time to New Zealand, but it sounds like the Porsches will be well suited to the long flowing gravel special stages. We’ve used these cars for many years now, and they have been proven to endure marathon events with the minimum of maintenance.”
NZ Silver Fern Rally Manager, Timaru’s Carl Rabbidge, said, “It is a further boost for the event, having a world recognised team like the Tuthill’s come. We still have the possibility of another Porsche entry, and if so, they will be one of the most popular makes to compete in our event.”
Team owner Francis Tuthill, will himself drive, using the oldest of the five Porsches, a 1967 2.7litre machine. Tuthill whose family business in the UK has during the last 30 years, prepared over 100 Porsche Rally Cars for top drivers including Bjorn Waldegard, Stig Blomqvist and Jimmy McRae. The team has numerous championship and event wins to its name.
Francis Tuthill began rallying back in 1977, when as a driver he used a VW Beetle, to compete in that years London to Sydney Marathon Rally. Since then he has placed 12th overall in the 1982 British RAC Rally (in a Ford Escort RS1800) and with his team prepared 10 of the 15 Porsche finishers in the 2000 London to Sydney event.
The second of the Tuthill team drivers is Dessie Nutt, who will use a 1972 Porsche 911. A six times winner of the Irish Killarney Historic Rally, Nutt has also twice been MSA British Historic Rally Champion, (which caters for pre 1968 cars) in 2000 and 2004. 2nd in 2002, 3rd in 2003, and 4th in both 2001 and 2004, he currently lies in 6th placing after 5 of the 9 events have been held in this year’s championship series.
Frenchman Paul-Eric Jarry drives the third Tuthill Porsche 911, having competed in a number of marathon rallies including the 2000 London to Sydney event where he drove a Peugeot 504. More recently in a Tuthill supplied Porsche he finished 10th overall in the 2003 East African Safari.
Geoff Fielding is the last of the Tuthill Porsche team drivers, and has a competition history going back to the 1979 British RAC Rally where he finished 21st driving one of Ford’s Escort RS1800 cars. He also competed in the mid 1980’s rally super car era, in one of the powerful MG Metro 6R4’s.
UK based privateer Harry Dodd, with his co-driver Roy Campbell, will drive the fifth Porsche entered this week, a 1973 2.4litre version. Dodd is currently competing in the British MSA Gravel Rally Championship in a Hyundai WRC car. Dodd is also no stranger to marathon events having placed 3rd in a Kalahari Desert Rally in Africa.
The NZ Silver Fern Rally will start from the Picton waterfront, before teams compete their way around the South Island, using Scenic Circle Hotels as bases for each of the events overnight stops. The rally travels to Greymouth, Queenstown, Dunedin and Christchurch before returning via Nelson to the finish in Blenheim.
The week long event will utilise approximately 1400 km of special stages, over some of the most scenic country roads in the world. This will be the first time a major International Status Rally, of this type, has been held in New Zealand’s South Island since the days of the Heatway and Motogard Rallies, back in the 1970’s and 80’s.
With just under three months still to go till the event starts in October, organisers are hopeful of attracting between 80 and 100 entries.
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