Pirelli’s Pull Brings Kiwi to Carlisle

Derek Ayton

The lure of the Pirelli International Rally and the opportunity to drive the legendary Kielder Forest stages has persuaded two times New Zealand Rally Champion, Derek Ayton to travel the 12,000 miles from his home, situated right at the bottom of that country’s South Island, to Cumbria and join a host of the UK’s top rally stars for the Carlisle based event on April 27th.

Although vastly experienced, Derek has won all New Zealand’s major rallies including the prestigious Silver Fern Marathon, he has also won the Otago Classic Rally three times and competed successfully in Australia, Derek has never  rallied in the United Kingdom, in fact, his trip over for the Pirelli International will be his first ever visit to the Northern Hemisphere. He will be using a Ford Escort supplied by Welsh ace Merion Evans with whom Derek enjoyed a close battle on the 2016 Silver Fern Rally which ended with Derek taking the “Challenge” category and Merion winning the Historic section, the pair became good friends over the 7 days, 1000 kilometre event and when Merion offered him the use of his car, Derek, naturally, jumped at the opportunity.

The 47 year old real estate agent will find the Kielder Forest tracks vastly different from the smooth gravel roads that are a feature of New Zealand’s events, he will however, have the benefit of the experienced Sam Collis guiding him through the stages.