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As we revealed yesterday, Rally New Zealand has announced two exciting new events that will run as 'tests' ahead of the hoped WRC return in 2021. The City of Auckland Rally and the Battle of Jack’s Ridge will be staged in November, comprising the stages that were planned for the World Rally Championship event, both north and east of the city. The City of Auckland Rally will be held on Saturday, November 14 and include stages in the Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and Riverhead Forest, before its conclusion at the purpose-built road “Jack’s Ridge” in Whitford. The Battle of Jack’s Ridge will be a standalone rally sprint on Sunday, November 15 which will feature an open category rally sprint over a section of the 6.2km Jack’s Ridge stage. “Clearly we had planned to spotlight these stages at the FIA World Rally Championship event in September,” said Rally New Zealand Chairman, Peter Johnston. “We were so pleased with the route that was coming together for Rally New Zealand, and now we want to share the Auckland-based stages with rally drivers and our fans. “There are some incredible rally stages north and west of the city which are fan-friendly and on Auckland’s door step.”

Jack Hawkeswood jumps his Mazda 2 on the 'Jack's Ridge' stage near Auckland on June 17. Photo: Geoff Ridder

The jewel in the crown is Jack’s Ridge, which has been purpose-built by well-known rally driver Andrew Hawkeswood. It is planned to be used as the power stage for Rally New Zealand. “Jack’s Ridge is unlike anything seen before in the history of New Zealand rallying. The stage is exciting and highly technical, incredibly spectator friendly and is easily accessible for fans.” “It’s something that’s been bubbling away for a little while, but the World Rally Championship returning was the perfect motivation to make it happen. Building Jack’s Ridge was all about using the lay of the land to create a stage that drivers would love combined with safe and prime spectating opportunities,” said Hawkeswood. The two events follow on from the recent cancellation of Rally New Zealand from the 2020 World Rally Championship calendar, with organisers remaining optimistic that these iconic roads will feature in the 2021 WRC schedule. “We are taking this opportunity to shakedown Jack’s Ridge and the stages around Auckland to showcase our preparedness for hosting the 2021 WRC event” said Johnston. “The FIA and WRC Promoter are aware that we have invested significantly into the return of Rally New Zealand. “We believe when fans get the chance to check out Jack’s Ridge, they will get a sense of the excitement and magnitude of hosting the World Rally Championship which we hope will be included on the 2021 calendar.”
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