The family-run rally team, Stokes Motorsport, based out of Waikuku, has a two-car team ready to challenge the front-runners in the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC).
The team has made some big changes this year, with team manager Brian Stokes stepping out of the driver’s seat for top-seeded Australian rally driver Brendan Reeves to drive the newly built Ford Fiesta AP4 car.
Brian debuted the car at the Coromandel Rally in 2018 with a 1.6-litre engine.
It was then decided to fit a 1.8-litre engine and increase the minimum weight to 1300kg as required by NZRC rules.
Brendan and co-driving sister Rhianon Gelsomino were excited about the opportunity to run the car in the Otago Rally this year. It is a bucket-list event for the pair, who will be competing in the region for their first time.
Brendan travelled to New Zealand to test the car in Geraldine in March, describing the AP4 as awesome.
“I’m super excited to be able to drive it on the beautiful New Zealand roads.”
Robbie and Amy Stokes will also be heading south for the Otago Rally this year with unfinished business.
After crashing out of the event in 2018, they are determined to come home with a solid result.
The brother-sister duo contested the Westland Rally last month in their left-hand-drive Ford Fiesta R2. They will use the same car to challenge in the opening round of the NZRC.
After competing in the Category 2 class of the NZRC in 2017 and 2018, Robbie is aiming to be on the top step of the podium by the end of the season.
“Last year there was a lot of learning to be done about our new car but this year I feel comfortable in left-hand-drive and am ready to challenge my competition,” he says.
Brian understands the pressure of undertaking a national championship campaign all too well after making several attempts to win the title of New Zealand Rally Champion, with successes in 1985 and 1988.
He will be a great support to both drivers throughout the course of the season.
The Rally of Otago will be based out of Dunedin on April 13 and 14.
Saturday will see the rally cars race south of the city, with the service park in Waihola.