Stig signs on for Silver Fern Rally
Former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist (Sweden) has confirmed he will be taking part in this year’s New Zealand Silver Fern Rally.
Blomqvist along with his regular co-driver, Ana Goñi, (Venezuela) will compete in the 7 day (October 7th – 14th) South Island marathon rally event in the classic MKII Ford Escort RS1800 that Goñi owns.
The pairing have been running this car at various British events over the last two years, finishing the 2004 and 2005 RAC classic events 1st and 2nd respectivly. The car is being prepared and will be run by the Historic Motorsport section of the UK based team, from David Sutton Cars.
Speaking from London , Blomqvist who turns 60 next month, said “I have had a very long association with New Zealand rallies and when Gary (Silver Fern Rally Chairman – Gary Smith) asked if I was interested, I talked it over with Ana, and now we will come to your rally”.
In 1987 Gary Smith was instrumental in bringing Blomqvist and his then retired co-driver Bjorn Cederberg, to the AWA Rally NZ, to drive Smith’s new Motogard Rallysport Ford Sierra XR4x4. His presence helped raise the profile of that event, and he continues today to be a world class driver.
Gary Smith said, “It is a great boost to organisers to have Stig and Ana on the entry list, and we hope it will attract even more top internationals to our event. He is recognised world wide, and his inclusion here will undoubtedly also be a help in our search for a major event sponsor.”
Blomqvist is no stranger to marathon rallies, having won the 2000 London to Sydney event in a Ford Capri Perana V8. More recently he and Goñi, finished 2nd overall in the 2005 Classic East African Safari Rally, after leading for much of the way, in another David Sutton prepared Ford Escort.
Blomqvist’s career began in 1964 when at the age of 18 and driving an unlikely two wheel drive Saab 96, he amazed everyone by finishing 2nd overall on his very first rally. He then drove professionally for Saab, winning his first International event at the 1971 British RAC Rally. He also mastered his home event, the Swedish Rally, winning it an impressive 8 times.
His top performances continued with the Lancia and Lotus Talbot teams, and in the early 80’s he was one of the first drivers to bring four-wheel-drive cars to rallying with the powerful Audi Quattro. He drove alongside top names like Hannu Mikkola, Walter Rorhl and Markku Alen.
Blomqvist has been coming to New Zealand events since 1983, winning the Sanyo NZ Rally in 1984, one of his 5 victories that year, on his way to becoming World Rally Champion for 1984.
He and Goñi were last here for Rally NZ in 2003, as part of the Production Car World Cup driving a David Sutton prepared Group N Subaru Impreza.
The NZ Silver Fern Rally will start from the Picton waterfront, before travelling around the South Island with Scenic Circle Hotels as bases for each of the events overnight stops, in Greymouth, Queenstown, Dunedin and Christchurch before returning via Nelson to the finish in Blenheim.
The week long event, will utilise approximately 1500 km of special stages, and 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.