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Shrugging off the 3 min. 10 sec. time penalty incurred on the opening day yesterday, veteran New Zealand rally driver Brian Stokes stormed into the lead of the 2016 New Zealand Silver Fern Rally in Otago today.
Brian and Anne Stokes (#3 Ford Escort Mk 11) now lead this year's NZ Silver Fern Rally after a dominant second day on roads in South Canterbury and the Maniototo today.With wife Anne calling the notes beside him, the former two-time New Zealand rally champion and winner of the inaugural NZ Silver Fern revival rally back in 2006, won three of today's stages including the classic 54 km marathon Blomqvist (stages on the event are named after rally greats of the era) down part of the Old Dunstan Road and the 42km Salonen from near Middlemarch deep in the Maniototo to close to Waikouaiti on the east coast north of Dunedin.
In his wake Stokes left day 1 Historic category leader Simon Tysoe and co-driver Paul Morris from the UK, who slipped down the leader board during the day, and not only made up eight places, he also put just over a minute on highly-rated Welsh pair Meirion Evans and Lestyn Williams in a similar Mk 11 Ford Escort RS 1800.
Third after the first two of the seven days of the 2016 event are Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis from the UK in a Fiat 131, and fourth Queensland husband-and-wife pair Keith and Mary-Anne Callinan in their Mk 11 Ford Escort RS 1800.
Ford Escorts are by far the most popular single model in this year's event but other car makes are also in the hunt. Second historic car home today, and now up to fifth in the historic class ranking, was the Datsun 1600 of Australian John Spencer and Kiwi co-driver Duncan McCrostie, while just one place further back is the Porsche 911 of Wanaka ace Allan Dippie and co-driver Paul Coghill.
Aucklanders Dave Strong and Rob Scott continue to lead the contemporary Challenge category in Strong's late model Honda Civic Type R but two category stage wins in a row at the end of the day saw Derek Ayson and co-driver Gavin McDermott from Gore close the gap from just under a minute at the end of the first day to just 13 seconds by the time the field reached tonight's parc ferme at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium this evening.
Ayson's Mk 11 Ford Escort looks just like the period correct RS1800s of Historic category front runners Stokes and Evans, but is fitted with a late model Nissan engine, meaning it must run in the Challenge category.
Ayson was in swash buckling form all day, he and Strong now enjoying a five-plus minute gap on Christchurch-based Scot Ally MacKay and co-driver Andrew Graves, in a similar later model engined Mk 11 Ford Escort, and a six-plus minute buffer on the fourth placed Honda Civic of Hamilton driver Charlie Evans and Sue O'Neill.
The 2016 NZ Silver Fern Rally continues tomorrow with six more stages, this time south and west of Dunedin with a service stop at Lawrence, before a return to the city for a second parc ferme at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
For more information including itinerary and detailed stage descriptions and maps go to the event website www.silverfernrally.co.nz

Day 2 Classification
Silver Fern Historic
1. Brian & Anne Stokes (Ford Escort Mk2 RS 1800) 3:15:49.0                   
2. Meirion Evans/Lestyn Williams (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) 3:16:53.8 +1:04.8   
3. Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis (Fiat 131) 3:17:18.2 +1:29.2        
4. Keith & Mary-Anne Callinan (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) 3:19:33.7 +3:44.7
5. John Spencer/Dean McCrostie (Datsun 1600) 3:19:49.4 +4:00.4
6. Allan Dippie/Paul Coghill (Porsche 911) 3:20:00.3 +4:11.3          
7. Stewart Reid/Dave Neill (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) 3:15:54.6 +4:15.6
8. Jake Scannell/Chris Lancaster (Toyota AE86) 3:20:06.5 +4:17.5
9. Phil Squires/Nigel Hutchinson (Ford Escort) 3:20:45.6 +4:56.6   
10. Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) 3:20:59.4 +5:10.4
Silver Fern Challenge
1. Dave Strong/Rob Scott (Honda Civic Type R) 3:13:06.1             
2. Derek Ayson/Gavin McDermott (Ford Escort)3:13:19.2 +0:13.1             
3. Ally MacKay/Andrew Graves (Ford Escort Mk2) 3:18:51.9 +5:45.8                   
4. Charlie Evans/Sue O'Neill (Honda Civic 1800)     3:19:18.1 +6:12.0                   
5. Brodie Anderson/Brad Lyons (Ford Escort Mk2)3:19:22.2 +6:16.1
6. Ed Mulligan/Tony Brandon (BMW E30 325i)3:29:38.0 +16:31.9

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