Defending Asia Pacific Rally Champion, Cody Crocker, headlines the international field for the 2007 Hella International Rally of Whangarei in 10 days time.

The Australian is one of 33 drivers from seven countries to line up in the May 11-13  event that is the second round of both the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship.

Eleven drivers will battle for points in the Asia Pacific Championship, and 18 in the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship. There are six competitors in the Kiwi 2 field and 42 in the Clubmans event.

The season debut for Crocker means he will renew his rivalry with reigning New Zealand champion Richard Mason.

The pair locked horns in a superb duel in last year's Asia Pacific Championship event in Rotorua, with just nine seconds separating the two drivers after Mason overcame a 13 second deficit on the final day.

Crocker and co-driver Ben Atkinson, brother of World Rally championship driver Chris Atkinson, will head the Subaru Motor Image Rally Team in a two-car campaign with Indonesia's Rifat Sungkar and Herkusuma Mohamad.

Crocker bypassed the opening round in New Caledonia as he lined up with Chris Atkinson and fellow Australian Dean Herridge to finish outright second in the 12-hour production race at Bathurst.

Japan's Hiroshi Yanagisawa, last year's runner-up in the Asia Pacific Championship, will be a desperate starter in New Zealand, after he failed to finish at New Caledonia in his Subaru.

There will be interest in the performance of India's Naren Kumar, with co-driver Dorairaj Ramkumar, who guided their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 to fourth placing on debut in New Caledonia.

There are five French drivers in the field, led by third seed Patrick Yanai (Mitsubishi Lander Evo 8), Patrick Christian (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8), Jean-Louis Leyraud (Subaru Impreza WRX), Alexis Barbou and Robert Christian (both Mitsubishi Lancer).

There's only one New Zealander in the Asia Pacific Championship field for Whangarei, in the form of Brian Green, who is again joined by Fleur Pedersen as co-driver in their Evo 9.

The New Zealand Rally Championship field is headed by defending champion Mason and co-driver Sara Randall, who opened the 2007 season where he left off last year with victory in the opening round in Otago.

Taihape's Bret Martin and Grant Marra are the second seeded combination in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, ahead of Dunedin's Emma Gilmour and Australian Glenn MacNeall (Subaru WRX).

There is also an interesting entry from Chris West and Garry Cowan, the 2004 national champions, in a Mitsubishi Evo 6.5 after their Subaru team did not re-enter this year.

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