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The iconic annual Ashley Forest Rallysprint (September 19) is adapting for its 2020 event, with the event altering business opportunities to sponsor the event. Following the COVID-19 period, sponsorship and commercial involvement has come to a halt due to the economic effects of the pandemic. So for this year, the event is offering an equal partnership for all sponsors. Having run for over 40 years, Ashley Forest Rallysprint is hosted just outside Rangiora (North Canterbury). The rallysprint features a snippet of the infamous ‘Mt Grey Road’, with a short 1.7km blast up and down the hill. Over the years, winners have included New Zealand national rally champions Neil Allport, Tony Teesdale, and the late Possum Bourne, together with other big names in the sport including Alistair McRae. Last year's winner, WRC star Hayden Paddon, smashed the previous Sloan Cox record on his final run. This year, Paddon is set to return in his Hyundai i20 AP4 hillclimb monster. He is also bringing along a strong contingent of crosskarts to debut at the event, with another national champion, Joe McAndrew, amongst the high profile names driving them.

Hayden Paddon won last year's event in his Hyundai i20 'special'. Photo: Alan Pritchard

Marcus Van Klink and his Mazda RX8 is bringing competition to current 2WD record holder Chris Hey, in the dominant Toyota MR220. Two of the fastest rear wheel drive cars in the country. An event like this doesn’t come cheap, with a full HD livestream scheduled for 2020, the event is doing all it can to keep normality for its loyal fans. “Although I was aware of the current climate, after consultation with previous sponsors, I decided a change would be needed,” new event promoter Jack Smith said. "The plan is to strip back all naming rights sponsorship of corners, classes and the event title. Then offering an equal partnership to all sponsors. "This includes banners on course for prime camera position, social media promotion, access to corporate rally rides and corporate hospitality (options to be confirmed), as well as branding displayed on the website and throughout the programme, plus more. “Knowing that businesses can’t justify the large sums for this year, surely the next best thing is to share these opportunities,” Smith commented. “We then want to encourage sponsors to utilise the event and engage with the loyal fans.” If you're interested in supporting the 2020 event, contact Jack Smith at [email protected].
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