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Brian Stokes is getting set to defend his 2006 NZ Silver Fern International Marathon Rally title, when the next event gets underway in October 2008.
Stokes, who comprehensively won the inaugural Silver Fern event driving a Ford RS Cosworth 4x4, has registered his early-bird entry for next year’s event, will be building a brand new Ford Escort RS1800.
Over the next 12 months Stokes will transform the 1976 Ford Escort into a highly competitive rally winning machine which will be fully compliant with the Classic’s class.
“I can’t wait to get back to rallying like it was in the old days, so this time we have really entered into the spirit of the event and have this new/old car already well underway. It’ll need to be fast, but also reliable over the long distance if we are to successfully defend our 2006 win,” Stokes said.
Not only looking to compete in the 2008 Silver Fern Rally, Stokes says he would like to support the MotorSport New Zealand Classic Championship, and is considering plans to use next year’s series to make sure the car is fully sorted.
A former double NZ National Rally Champion, firstly in a MKII Escort RS1800 in 1985, and then in a Sierra XR 4x4 in 1988, Stokes said at the finish of the 2006 Silver Fern Rally that the marathon event had been one of the best week’s of his life.
He is in full support of the Silver Fern Rally organisers’ philosophy to bring back the days of old, when rallying was all about endurance and reliability, but with a fun social side.

“The idea they came up with was magic, and I’m already fizzing about next year’s event,” he added. “With today’s modern rallies lasting only a day or two, next year’s event, over a total of eight days, and covering around 1500km of all gravel special stages, will need a re-think from some drivers.”
In 2006 many thought Stokes’ high powered Ford Escort RS Cosworth would not last the distance, but he was fast and consistent right throughout the event, winning most of the special stages to win ahead of Sweden’s Stig Blomqvist in an Escort.
Silver Fern Rally Chairman, Hamilton’s Gary Smith, welcomed Stokes’ early commitment to the next event.

“Brian absolutely loved that last event, and cant wait for another go, but the competition will be a bit tougher next year with a greater number of international drivers keen to experience the marathon rallying adventure and the best of New Zealand’s rally roads,” Smith said.
The October 16-23, 2008 event, will start in Christchurch, and take competitors to Queenstown, Dunedin, Invercargill, back to Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch, before finishing at Scenic Circle Hotels new Conference Centre in Blenhiem.
For the latest entries and further information visit:- www.silverfernrally.co.nz
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