A PAIR of county rally crews came away with podium places following the gruelling Silver Fern Rally in New Zealand.

After some 800 stage miles over 48 special stages, from warm dusty conditions to rain, and muddy, slippery roads , Hereford rally driver Roger Chilman together with Max Freeman survived to finish a superb second overall.

Driving in their Securcom, Connop, Haywood Demolition backed Escort RS1800 kept their cool throughout the tough conditions to take the lead following the opening day before eventually being pushed down to second place.

Just one place behind overall were Simon Tysoe and Ross-on-Wye based co-driver Paul Morris in their RS1800 to complete an excellent podium for Herefordshire crews.

Sadly the third member of the county trio Ken Davies with Alan Jones in their KGD Services Mk1 Escort, retired just two stages from the end while holding 12th overall with mechanical failure.

The overall event winners were Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis in another RS1800 who survived an off-road excursion to take a fine victory and complete a British podium clean sweep

The eight-day marathon took in some of the finest roads in world rallying, and finishing with the 22-mile Motu Road stage, made famous by the late Colin McRae.

"lt has been the most amazing adventure for us, to finish second is the icing on the cake on my first visit to the event," said Chilman.

"At one point we led the event, but then had issues of our own, so runner up is more than I expected to be honest.

"We started steadily and gradually increased our speed as the event wore on, but its one tough rally is this.

"I can't thank my sponsors Securcom, Connor, Haywood, S Demolition and Pirelli Tyres enough for making this happen, also to Meirion Evans and Wales Motorsport, finally to Max who kept me on the straight and narrow all week with a superb job. "