Five-time British Rally champion Jimmy McRae is returning to New Zealand this month to compete on the Silver Fern Rally based in South Island.

McRae, who will head up the Jardine Lloyd Thompson-supported RS1800 Ford Escorts, has unfinished business on the event. The Scot has been seeded at number two in the running order behind the Escort of 2006 winner Brian Stokes.

"This is a fantastic rally offering around 1200kms of high speed special stages on some of the best roads rallying can offer," said Jimmy, who will be co-driven by Pauline Gullick.

"Fifty four cars, drivers and co-drivers, their teams, dozens of event officials and hundreds of volunteers will all be in South Island for the 2008 Silver Fern International Marathon Rally which is held over 8 days.

"It is the longest duration motorsport event currently taking place in New Zealand, and takes its roots from the Silver Fern and Heatway Rallies of the late 1960's and early 1970's."

The second JLT car meanwhile will be driven by Andrew Barnes, deputy chairman of Lloyd and partners, whose previous marathon experience is competing on the Safari Classic Marathon Rallies, where he finished fourth overall in 2003.

"This is a legendary event," added Barnes, "and I am looking forward to my first visit to New Zealand and driving over those famous stages."

The event, which runs from October 16-23, will start in Christchurch's Cathedral Square, and take competitors south to Queenstown, Dunedin, and Invercargill, back to Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch before finishing at the new Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim.