Motorsport: Silver Fern hits the mighty Motu

Shane Murland finished yesterday leading the historic category after three famously tough stages. Photo / Geoff Ridder
Shane Murland finished yesterday leading the historic category after three famously tough stages. Photo / Geoff Ridder

The legendary 'mighty Motu' rally stage near Gisborne lived up to its reputation yesterday, shaking up the leaderboard in this week's Silver Fern Rally.

Just 15 seconds covered the top five places in the Historic Trophy class yesterday morning, as the epay-sponsored rally took competitors from Rotorua to Gisborne.

The field took on the Motu stage before running through Rakauroa and Wakarau - three tough stages totalling 100km.

Shane Murland came up on top after starting in sixth and 42 seconds off the lead pace - arriving in Gisborne last night with a 1m46sec lead.

There were ups and down behind Murland, but Deane Buist, Neil Allport, Jeff Judd, and Vince Bristow are still within 51 seconds of each other heading into today's stages.

Aussie Geoff Portman put in an impressive effort to catch up to the historics - after crashing in the morning he was back after the Opotoki service at midday beating Murland for the stage wins and setting records on the way.

The Silver Fern Challenge has also seen a change in the top order, with Brian Stokes moving up from third to lead in his highly modified Ford Escort.

Having jumped ahead of Brent Taylor's Toyota, and closed the gap on Dave Strong by midday, Stokes was 1min 19 sec slower than Taylor through the Motu but extended his lead to 21 seconds over Strong's Honda by close of play.

The Silver Frond category was also thick with action - Andrew Shrimpton had broken more than just the driveshaft in his Escort on Sunday, but after picking up a replacement engine on TradeMe and fitting it overnight, he was back in the game yesterday.

James Hewlett still leads, with Trevor Taylor moving his Mitsubishi Mirage up to second after Stuart McFarlane suffered mechanical issues with his Porsche.

Former NZ Rally Champion co-driver Jim Robb is now sitting third in his Datsun Sunny.

Today sees seven special stages over 178km, including Hereheretau, Cricklewood and Mohaka Coach.

The epay Zone in Napier will be on Marine Parade south of the National Aquarium from 5:20pm, allowing people to see the cars and drivers before end of day service.

- nzherald.co.nz

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