With 20 International competitors signed up for the running of the 2010 NZ Silver Fern Marathon Rally, organisers are pleased to announce that South African driver Geoff Bell in a Ford Escort RS1800 was named as the No1 Historic Trophy seed, when the entry list was announced today.

Bell and his Kenyan based co-driver Tim Challen will lead the field of 54 starters away from the Ceremonial Start in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square on the afternoon of November 13th before heading into seven days and 1050kms of high speed rally competition.

Bell told organisers “I am pleased to be considered worthy of being seeded No1” and added “I hope I can show it’s warranted with a good placing this week in the Classic International Rally of Morocco” a 9 day marathon event where he and Challen are competing in a Porsche. (his UK built Escort is already on the sea heading for New Zealand).

In recent events Bell has competed well in Historic events in Europe against some top competition including World Champions Bjorn Waldegard & Stig Blomqvist.

Local Kiwi favourite, Christchurch’s Jeff Judd along with winning co-driver from the 2008 event, Mark Smith, will start second Historic away, in a brand new yet to be tested Ford Escort RS1800.

At 3 will be Englishman Simon Tysoe, followed by local Shane Murland, both in Ford Escort RS1800’s, and both of whom competed in the 2008 event.

The first Australian pairing away at No5, will be outback and gravel specialist’s Geoff Portman and Ross Runnalls driving a Holden Commodore. The large cars are rarely seen in NZ rallying, but in this event it is joined by fellow Australian’s Peter Cochran in a Ford Mustang and Garry Leeson in a Ford Falcon, both V8’s.

Austrian brothers-in-law Willi Polesznig (Porsche 911) and Josef (Sepp) Pointenger (Escort) will start from 11th and 14th respectively.

In the 16 car Challenge Event, (for modified Classics and modern cars) 2006 Silver Fern Rally winner Kaiapoi’s Brian Stokes will be first away in his highly modified MKII Ford Escort, followed by the spectacular Andrew Hawkeswood (Alexandra) in a brand new Group B look-a-like, but modified Mazda RX7.

Australian Brad Goldsbrough (Datsun 1600) second at the Otago Classic in 2009, is next Challenge competitor away, followed by Englishman Peter Smith in the car (Ford Escort MKII) that Jimmy McRae drove into the 2008 Silver Fern Rally lead just before the engine expired.

Christchurch drivers Garry Cliff (Datsun 160J) and Jim Hewlett (Ford Escort RS1800) will battle out the three day Baby Fern event which finishes in Dunedin.

The 2010 Silver Fern Rally has drawn not only competitors from 5 nations, but also sees a real diversity of cars, from the popular Ford Escorts thru to the likes of a Fiat 131, Datsun 240Z, Vauxhall Chevette, Peugeot 206, Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen.

The 2010 NZ Silver Fern Rally starts in Christchurch on Saturday November 13th, with overnight stops in Timaru, Dunedin, Invercargill and Alexandra before finishing in Queenstown on the 20th.

For more information visit www.silverfernrally.co.nz

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