Two cars entered in the Endurance Rally Association’s New Zealand Classic, held from 15 February to 5 March, have been prepared by the experts at Rally Preparation Services, as the competitors get ready to start this epic adventure.


The New Zealand Classic rally will take American drivers, Tim Eades and Jeff Urbina, on a journey of more than 4,300 miles from Auckland to the finish line in Christchurch. Along the way they will tackle more than fifty regularity sections and eight special tests, enjoying stunning scenery and tough roads.

Tim will be tackling the event with fellow American, Jim McLaren, with the pair choosing a 1972 Ford Escort Mexico. As a car built to celebrate Ford’s victory in the gruelling 1970 London to Mexico Rally, it’s surely the ideal vehicle for the roads of New Zealand.

Jeff and his New Zealand co-driver, Chris Pike, are also in an ex-works Ford Escort. With nimble handling and proven competition pedigree, both cars should be more than capable of dealing with everything the thrilling route can throw at them.

After collecting his car in New Zealand, Jeff told the ERA Media team: “Everything seems to be in order other than I pulled the steering wheel off when I got in the car! So we’ve got a new one on order that will hopefully get fixed tomorrow in time for the start.

“I just bought the Escort, it was a former works car raced back in period and this will be our first rally with the car. We took the high powered BDA out and put in 2-litre Pinto engine just to make it more manageable. This will be my first rally in New Zealand, I’ve been here on business before but I am really looking forward to seeing the islands. I’ve brought my mate, New Zealander Chris Pike with me. We spent the last couple of days with his parents, so we got the prodigal son back home! I promised his Mother I would look after him and bring him home again.”

Chris added: “I’ve known Jeff for 12 ½ years and although I’m originally from NZ, I’ve been living in the USA for 22 years and this will be my first rally in New Zealand! I left here in 1989, travelled the world and ended up working and living in the US. I met Jeff and his crew of guys, I used to race sail boats that was my original trade, now I am a builder and race cars with Jeff. This is my first time back home in 15 years, my Mother was glad to see me!”

Tim and Jeff are no strangers to challenging events, both choosing to drive Chevrolets as they embarked on the Endurance Rally Association’s Paris to Peking Motor Challenge in 2016. After 36 days and more than 8,500 miles Tim finished in an impressive twenty second in the Pre-1941 Category with Jeff taking an equally creditable thirty eighth place in the Pre-1975 Classic Category. And Tim and his co-driver, Jack Baldwin, once again chose a Chevrolet – a delightful 1938 Fangio Coupe – for the 2017 Flying Scotsman rally, with Jeff opting for a 1931 Ford Cabriolet.

But for New Zealand the crews will be relying on the ability of their Ford Escorts to get them to the finish line, and thanks to the expert engineers at Rally Preparation Services, they are looking forward to a strong result.

Follow their adventure here

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