His­toric ace to send his Fiat to New Zealand for epic rally at­tempt

Motor Sport News - - Historics - By Paul Lawrence Pho­tos: Paul Lawrence

Matthew Robin­son says that the Sil­ver Fern Rally in Novem­ber will be the big­gest test yet for the Fiat 131 Abarth project con­ceived and built by Rally Sport De­vel­op­ments.

Robin­son and co-driver Sam Col­lis have spent this sea­son putting as many com­pet­i­tive miles as pos­si­ble into the first car for de­vel­op­ment and will now take a freshly-built 131 to New Zealand for the week­long 700-stage mile event.

“We’ve tried to get as many miles on the orig­i­nal car as we could be­fore ship­ping the new one,” said Robin­son. “The new one is fin­ished in pe­riod Al­i­talia colours.

“I’ve never done the event be­fore and we’re go­ing to do every­thing we can to get round and fin­ish,” said Robin­son. “Some of the stages in New Zealand are as long as a com­plete rally in the UK. That’s a big test for the 131 but if we get a good run I think we can be up there.”

A ma­jor spares pack­age is be­ing shipped with the car and key com­po­nents from the first car may be air-freighted to New Zealand as a back up once it has com­pleted the BHRC sea­son on the Track­rod His­toric Cup on Oc­to­ber 1.

Robin­son be­lieves that the Fiat, de­vel­oped by Kevin Theaker and his small team in York­shire, can be a ri­val to the Ford Es­corts that dom­i­nate his­toric ral­ly­ing in the UK.

“We’ve still got a lot to do with the project and it was never go­ing to be easy, but maybe next year we can chal­lenge the BHRC Es­cort boys,” said Robin­son.

The Fiat 131 will tackle 700-mile event

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