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Robbie Stokes Seeks to Continue Southland Family Tradition

Not since 1994 has the Stokes name been atop the podium at the Southland Rally, when Brian Stokes won his first event. In 2020, the event returns as the Southern Lights Rally, bringing with it the next generation of Stokes legacy.

 

Current leader of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, 28-year-old Robbie Stokes, wasn’t even born when his dad first put the family name at the top. Following in the same footsteps as his two-time championship-winning father, Robbie says the insight on what lies ahead for the southern event is in small doses.

 

“It's quite hard to get stuff out of dad these days other than he’s said ‘ohh, it's cold and it's slippery’, but I think I've heard that from a lot of people,” said Robbie. “He's been really helpful with sorting out what tyres we're going to run and just the conditions that the stages can be in. Overall we don't really know what’s ahead except everyone else is in the same boat. I can't think if there's anyone in the championship part of the rally that's actually done it before, not even Hayden (Paddon). So it’s a clean sheet for everyone and I'm really looking forward to it, especially the night stages. That 48km for the second stage - it's just going to be magic, awesome.”

 

The Southern Lights Rally, which kicks off on Friday night, 21 June 2024, from Invercargill, covers 157km of special stages through the nation’s Southland region. The rally starts with a ceremonial launch at 4pm at the iconic Bill Richardson Transport World. The undercover ceremonial start will see competitors head into the dark for the first special stage in the Pebbly Hills Forest region.

 

The competition resumes on Saturday morning with a further nine special stages, including two service stops at the township of Winton. The rally then heads west to Tuatapere before returning to Invercargill for the event's final stage at the Teretonga race circuit. This stage, a combination of gravel and tarmac, will bring the competitors to the track-side ceremonial finish at 5pm.

 

As one of the lead cars in the field Robbie Stokes and co-driver Sarah Brennan delivered the Ford Fiesta AP4 as a formidable team and car package. Their runner-up result at the first two championship events has them holding a four-point lead on second placed Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn.

 

Spectators can enjoy the action with entry to the Transport World ceremonial start available for a $10 donation to charity at the door. Spectator entry for both the Pebbly Hills night stage and the ceremonial finish is also $10. Tickets can be purchased in advance from Invercargill’s Transport World, E Hayes & Sons, Auto Centre, and Harrison Supplies in Gore, or directly at the gate.

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