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Brian Stokes in a Ford Escort Cosworth continues to lead the 2006 NZ Silver Fern International Marathon Rally, but it was the spectacular Black Forest Stage that proved the most talked about aspect of the day.

Run along the Black Forest Farm road and the down the power transmission line service road from Haldon to the Benmore Dam, the Black Forest Stage has been used several times over the years, and comments from today's running are as varied as those from the 1976 Heatway Rally when the stage was run in darkness and with snow falling.

Ex-World Champ, Stig Blomqvist from Sweden, described the stage as "scary stuff", while his co-drover, Ana Goni from Venezuela, suggested it was "definitely not a co-drivers stage", referring to the huge drops from the road down in to the lake should a mistake be made by any driver.

Rally leader Brian Stokes said "that was unbelievable - you can just see your life flash by in front of your eyes". Stokes was still fastest through the 29.34km stage in a time of 26m11s and averaging 67km/hr. From the other perspective, Porsche driver (Frenchman) Paul-Eric Jarry said: "that was excellent, really fun".

In fact it was the Porsche drivers, with the exception of one, that all commented they either enjoyed the stage or that it suited their rear-engined cars. Kiwi Porsche driver, Brent Rawstron, said: "It was one of those stages that if you were in the grove and had your mind set it was OK. We started out slowly and built up speed as we went – hey, it's all part of this marathon event."

A number of drivers experienced mechanical problems in the stage as well, including Brian Green, who punctured 10km from the end, stopped to change the wheel but broke his jack, and was forced to drive out of the stage on the rim. The misfortune dropped Green about 15 places overall.

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