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Wrapping up this year's final round of the 2006 Parker ENZED New Zealand Rally Championship, the 0800 Boxman Rally of Nelson will be the season's greatest test of competitor's mettle.

Fought over two days (23-24 September 2006), the 11-stage rally includes a number of new roads to mix-up the competition.  Compact by design, the event still features a number of popular stages that see's the cars start and finish from Nelson's World of WearableArtTM & Classic Cars Museum (WOW) complex.

With a rally show preceding the Saturday midday start, the 21 championship contenders are all under the added pressure of needing to complete both days of the event in order to cement their overall championship standing.

While newly crowned championship winners Richard Mason and Sara Randall contest a round of the Chinese Rally Championship the same weekend, the battle for second and third place in the overall championship heats up.  A dramatic come-from-behind charge by former champion Chris West and Garry Cowan in the Winger Subaru Impreza has seen them move to fifth place - 20 points off the leading Mitsubishi and currently second placed Brett Martin (Turangi).

"We're going to try and stay where we are," said Martin of his championship placing.  "But we're going to try and have a run at first or second overall for the rally."

"We are going to try hard for the lead on the first three stages - if we're not quite there then we'll do what we can to stay second in the championship."

Adding to the pressure Martin's position is under; Dunedin's Emma Gilmour and Palmerston North's Sam Murray are entrenched in their own battle of Subaru supremacy.  The pair are a maximum of six points ahead of West - and all within the easy clutches of a second placed standing.

With 64 points in total up for grabs over the two days, the pressure to finish is key to championship placing - with the distinct likelihood of punctures on the rock based forestry stages.

Upping the interest in the Kiwi-2 title battle, flyer Kayne Barrie (Auckland) returns for the final round - the Nissan Sunny expected to be a wedge between class leader (and rookie) Aaron Cook and an easy title victory.  There to also keep the pressure on, second placed Glenn Inkster starts the rally in the Andrew Keighley supplied Honda CRX.  53 points behind Cook, the Auckland driver is only four in front of junior James Holder (Toyota Trueno) - both needing to finish if they want to keep their podium placings.

The 1986 outright championship winning and always spectacular Group B Mazda RX-7 of Palmerston North's Bert Murray leads the inaugural Classic class - 20 points ahead of fellow competitor Keith Frankum (Hastings) in a Toyota AE86.

"Hopefully taking out the championship - that is what I'm looking forward too," said Bert Murray. "With our competition it is imperative that we finish - that is our main aim."

"We've worked hard to make sure the car is prepared to finish each round and take maximum points.  It's worked so far so that is what we're trying to achieve.  We're not likely to get in to a battle with other competitors - especially with the Silver Fern rally a few weeks away."

Also fiercely fought, the Rookie and Junior classes are a Hayden Paddon (EVO 8) vs Patrick Malley (EVO7) tussle.  Each the respective category leader, neither can afford to cruise or not finish in case they get upstaged by their peers.

Fast roads; and flowing by their nature, the Nelson weekend ends a six round journey of New Zealand's premiere rally locations.  While Subaru have wrapped up the manufacturers title, Mitsubishi flyers Brett Martin (EVO9), Dean Sumner (EVO8), Hayden Paddon (EVO8), Dylan Turner (EVO9) and Stewart Taylor (EVO9) have all shown the outright speed capable of stage victory.  As to who will string the winning tally of lowest aggregate stages times together remains very much a lottery, as the teams do their best to prepare for car/driver supremacy.  The only unknown factor remains the conditions - expected to decide Sunday afternoon's victor.A ceremonial presentation of each of the class winners will take place from 3pm outside the WOW complex on the Sunday (24th September) afternoon.
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