'Signature stage' back in

Organisers of the Silver Fern Rally are relieved the Lake Onslow stage has been reinstated, as they say it is one of the features that attracts overseas drivers to the event.

Last week, the Central Otago District Council turned down a request by rally organisers to use two hill country roads, from Millers Flat to Styx, because of concerns from Minzion Station owners Peter and Dougal Macdougall that speeding rally cars would upset calving cows and lambing ewes.

The decision dismayed rally organisers, who described the 100km-long stage as the event's "signature stage".

"A lot of the drivers from overseas don't get to drive in stages that long, so that's what they want to do when they get here," rally media spokesman Paul Smith said.

"It's one of the few places where they can."

As a result of discussions between the two groups, brokered by the council, the November 17 stage would be split into three sections, with drivers travelling at normal road speed for 7km through Minzion Station. Marshals would ensure that condition was followed, Mr Smith said.

Council roading manager Julie Muir said the deal came about after rally organisers came up with an option that the council then put to the landowners.

"Once people realised that both views were important it didn't take too long for an agreement to be reached."


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