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For Clint Cunningham, it will be a case of living the dream when round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship gets underway at Rally Whangarei this weekend.

A former resident of Paparoa, the small country town which the gravel stages of the event are based around, Cunningham grew up watching the World Rally Championships finest drivers on the roads around his home.

This season has seen the West Aucklander step up to the New Zealand Rally Championship for the first time and Cunningham is chasing the rookie title. After the opening round in Otago last month, Cunningham sits third after a troubled opening round.

Since that event, Cunningham and his team have done a lot of work to improve both the performance and reliability of the RCK Contractors Mitsubishi Evo 4 as he and co-driver Greg Ruka look to take a strong haul of points towards their rookie championship, where a good result will put them into the lead of the championship in front of a large group of local supporters.

“It’s a bit like a home rally for us really, we will have plenty of local support,” says Cunningham. “When I was growing up in Paparoa, all my mates wanted to be All Blacks and they laughed at me when I said I would be a rally driver after watching all the rock stars. I showed them!”

Rally Whangarei gets underway with a ceremonial start in the Cameron Street Mall from 3.30pm on Friday before the action gets underway the following day. After two days of competition, competitors will have covered 288km of competitive special stages on some of the best gravel roads in the world before a ceremonial finish in the Whangarei town basin starting at 3.15pm on Sunday.

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