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The first leg of the NZ Silver Fern International Marathon Rally has seen a see-saw battle between Gary Adcock in a 1975 Triumph TR7 V8 and Brian Stokes in an Ford Escort Cosworth, a vehicle some 20 years younger, and with the added advantage of four wheel drive.
Stokes headed off from Blenheim after being seeded first following the Prologue stages, but it was Adcock and his co-driver Mark Dalton who set the early pace winning the first stage near Hanmer, by 18 seconds.
Stokes immediately fought back with a 10 second win on the Maruia Saddle Stage and then it was Adcock’s turn, winning the next two stages, the Braeburn Track near Murchison and the first of the Greymouth Forest stages “Notown” to open up a 37 second lead over his rival.
Adcock’s pace has surprised a few, but memories are short, as he has led and won before. He was winner of the 2000 Historic Rally NZ event, as well as the Classic Otago Rally that same year.
On the final two stages of the day in the forests north and east of Greymouth, Stokes took over the lead in the rally to hold a 53 second advantage going in to the second day of the week long event. In third place only 11 seconds behind is 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist, driving a Ford Escort RS 1800.
The day's stages took the cars from Blenheim over the famous Molesworth Station and in to Hanmer. Blomqvist’s co-driver, Ana Goni, described the scenery up on the tops as “fantastic, just as well we weren’t rallying through there after all.”
The day concluded with a spectacular stage, 3 laps of the Greymouth Victoria Park Trotting Track. The local crowds were out in force to view the sideways action on a track usually reserved for the trotting horses. This same stage was last used for the 1973 Heatway Rally over 30 years ago.

1. Brian Stokes, Ford Escort RS Cosworth, 1h45m07s

2. Garry Adcock, Triumph TR7 V8, +53s

3. Stig Blomqvist, Ford Escort RS1800, +1m04s

4. Joe McAndrew, Honda Integra Type R, +2m56s

5. Stumphy Holmes, Ford Escort RS1800, +3m15s

6. Jimmy McRae, Honda Integra Type R, +3m40s

7. Robert Murray, Mazda RX7, +4m26s

8. Brent Rawstron, Porsche 911 RS, +4m30s

9. Brian Green, Ford Escort WRCar, +5m09s

10. Duncan McCrostie, Nissan Bluebird Turbo, +5m18s

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