Super-fast New Zealand rally driver, Andrew Hawkeswood, is targeting an outright win in October’s week-long, South Island-based, NZ Silver Fern International Marathon Rally.
Hawkeswood will run a Mazda RX7 in the marathon’s classic class.
Last year, he drove his lightweight Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to fourth place in the Pikes Peak Hillclimb in the United States, but for 2006 has decided his new challenge will be closer to home.
“I decided to give (the Silver Fern) a go," he said this week. "Pikes Peak was last year's challenge. This year, we're building another new car, and have chosen our rallying adventure a bit closer to home.”
The Silver Fern has around 1500 kilometres of high-speed special stages.
“It’ll be the longest event I’ve ever done," Hawkeswood said. "Some of those 70 to 80km stages sound amazing, but we’re trying not to be too fazed by all that, if we can pace ourselves we should do well."
What started life as a 1984 Mazda RX7 is currently well on its way to becoming a big wing Group B look-alike. It will be powered by a 320bhp peripheral port Mazda 13B rotary engine.
Hawkeswood said that moving from driving a modern turbocharged four-wheel drive rally car to an equally powerful rear-wheel drive car, will be a challenge in itself.
His only rally in a rear-wheel drive car was more than 15 years ago, in another RX7. "I started a Hamilton tarmac event seeded 99th but we managed to finish 14th."