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After much anticipation the epay Silver Fern Rally started today, as a large crowd gathered in Auckland’s Botany Town Centre to cheer on the 48 starters, and wish them well as they embark on their week long adventure ahead. Certainly the variety, colour and sound of the historic and classic rally cars made for an exciting atmosphere. Bringing back memories from the golden age of rallying for many.

Within the overall Silver Fern Rally the cars are grouped into three main categories, with classes based on engine capacity within the categories.

The NZ Silver Fern Historic Trophy is for cars built prior to 1987, that are as original as possible, using the same engine specification and parts that were used when they were raced at the time.

The NZ Silver Fern Classic Challenge is for all two wheel drive cars, and allows for any modifications that people want to make to their cars. It also includes some modern rally cars, that could be called future classics.

The Silver Frond Rally is contested over the first three days only, but is open to all two wheel drive cars.

Despite any apparent advantage that could be gained from making modifications and using more modern parts, the nature of a marathon rally means that the differences are largely equalised. This event is about endurance and reliability, where a small problem on any one of the 7 days and 1000km of competition stages can see you fall back quickly.

However, everyone will be expecting problems at some point, and it is how the drivers and their teams deal with these issues, with the least loss of time, that will be a major factor in their ultimate success. Meaning this event is as much about team work and strategy, as it is about driving flat out on gravel roads.

With the cars and teams now all flagged away, the true test begins at 8am tomorrow morning as the drivers head out of Auckland and on their way to Rotorua, via a service stop in Tauranga.

With a comparatively easy 85km of special stages along the way, the competitors will be treated to a couple of runs through the Maramarua Forest, as well as a selection of country roads out from Te Kauwhata, and Matamata, before heading to Baypark Speedway for a service break at 2pm. It is then a mix of country roads, with a forestry stage thrown in for good measure as they head down to Rotorua.

The epay Zone in Rotorua will be at the Rotorua Village Green from 5pm, allowing people to see the cars up close and mingle with the drivers as they head into the end of day service. There will be a commentary and driver interviews, along with the latest end of day results. epay will also have event merchandise on sale and there will be giveaways.
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