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London to Sydney Marathon

5th June - 4th July 2004

Day 1 - London to St Malo

JOE McANDREW IN MAXIMUM ATTACK MODE

Kiwi champ Smokin Joe McAndrew blitzed the field over the first two forest stages of the London-Sydney Marathon cruising into Portsmouth to catch the overnight ferry to France with a comfortable 22 second lead.

Sixty-one entries from a dozen countries were flagged off today on the 30-day 15,000 km epic adventure that will take them half way across the world.

Englishman Simon Glover claimed second place in his classic Mk1 Ford Escort just one second ahead of five times British Champion Jimmy McRae in his Toyota Corolla.

Competitors in this epic long distance rally are divided into two categories - classics up to 1977 and modern showroom cars up to 2-litres no turbos and no 4wds.

Interestingly the top ten leader board at close of play today shows five classics and five of the modern Group N showroom cars proving that combining classics with moderns provides a level playing field.

The real battle over the next few days will be between Graham Lorimer's South African built 3-car team of modern Toyota Corollas and Joe McAndrew's 3-car team of Honda Integras out of New Zealand.

The two forest stages took their toll on machinery. Aussie Keith Callinan in his mighty V8-engined Holden Monaro came out of the second stage in fifth place cruising to a halt with a damaged rear axle. American Chip Johns in his Ford Falcon blew a clutch and fellow American Paul Shaver in his Honda Acura had a small fire in his transmission tunnel that ruined his fuel line and electrics. All three made it to the ferry and will be in action again tomorrow.

While the front runners were in hard charge mode others were being a little more circumspect easing themselves gently into what will become a 30-day battle or skill and wits.

Aussie veteran Brian Hilton in his Toyota Corolla in a modest 21st place said, "My last big event was in 1985, I've been out of the saddle for a while so I'll dust the rust off slowly and pick up the pace in a few days time."

Richard Martin Hurst in his classic V8 Capri Perana sitting quietly in 9th place said, "Good to be in the top ten but it's far too early to start going hard. You don't win 30-day events in the first week. This is all about pace and holding something back for the big push in the final week across the outback."

Competitors are now out of the forests and for next few days as they head towards the French Alpes and the Italian border they will be on tight tricky tarmac stages. more...

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