McRae and PG ready for Rally New Zealand tussle
- 18th June 2012, 8:52am
The fourth round of the 2012 SWRC starts from Auckland on Thursday June 21 and includes 22 stages run wholly on New Zealand’s North Island.
The Malaysian manufacturer collected a three-minute victory on Rally Sweden, its last SWRC outing, while lead driver P-G Andersson had been seven minutes ahead on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally before he was forced out on the final day in the French Alps.
The PROTON Motorsports team elected the miss the third round of the Super 2000 WRC in Portugal, due to a clash with its FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship commitments, where PROTON is defending its drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles. Andersson and his Scottish team-mate Alister McRae will drive the two factory Satria-Neo S2000s on the roads north and south of the Rally New Zealand’s Auckland base.
Rally New Zealand is always one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the calendar with the drivers enjoying the heavily cambered North Island roads, while the sport-mad locals provide a great welcome to the regulars of world rallying. And the route for next week’s fourth round (from eight) of the SWRC will be a classic, with plenty of new stages and the rally’s longest competitive distance since the 1995 event.
After a city centre start from Auckland, the event heads south to the beautiful coastal town of Raglan, around which day one is centred. And the drivers themselves capture the best view of the Tasman coast as they hustle their rally cars along what has to be one of the most picturesque – and therefore most photographed – stretches of road in the series, the Whaanga Coast stage.
Day two takes the crews in the opposite direction as they head north to Whangarei for a second challenging leg, before Sunday’s final loop of stages based around Auckland – including two runs through the Auckland Domain test, which will thrill the thousands of fans turning out to watch the action at the heart of the nation’s largest centre of population.
P-G Andersson said:
“It’s great to be back in the PROTON again and what better place than New Zealand? This is a fantastic rally and incredible roads. The stages are always really smooth, which means it’s not so demanding on the car – allowing you to have quite a straight race with the other drivers. Of course, it is the winter in New Zealand, though, so this does mean that we could have some rain or some changing weather. Let’s see what comes, but we are certainly going down there chasing another SWRC win – it seems like a very long time since we were out on the last SWRC round, spraying the champagne on my home rally in February!”
Alister McRae said:
“Rally New Zealand is always a favourite among the drivers. The fast and flowing nature of the roads encourage you to attack and push harder. The roads work with you on this event, you can use the camber of the road to pull you through the corner – at times you can be a gear higher than you would be on the same sort of bend without the camber. It’s great that P-G and I have been down here already once this year, that’s given us a good chance to dial ourselves into the specific nature of these stages.”
Datuk Abdul Razak Dawood (Head of PROTON Motorsports) said:
“It’s exciting to rejoin the SWRC after a hectic schedule competing in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship. P-G Andersson is fourth in the FIA SWRC drivers’ standings after only two rounds, while Alister McRae is in eighth position. We did not compete in the Rally of Portugal and, therefore, being one round down, you can be certain that the two drivers will be out gunning for maximum points. The team enjoyed a good run in New Zealand in March during the APRC round, where Andersson and McRae finished second and fourth respectively. The special stages may not be identical for this SWRC round, but they are similar and with both drivers feeling comfortable with the terrain they will be able to push the Satria Neo S2000 to a competitive pace. Ideally, we look forward to repeating the outstanding performance and overall victory in Sweden.”
Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“We are very much looking forward to getting back down to New Zealand and having a good run – we won on these stages in APRC last year, so have a good idea of what to expect. And both of the guys have good experience of New Zealand and they love the stages, so we’re going to be pushing hard for a second win in three SWRC outings so far this season. Undoubtedly, there will be some tough competition – not least from [Hayden] Paddon. We’re in his backyard in New Zealand: he knows the stages very well, he’s a quick lad in a quick car, so he’s going to make us work for it.”
Round: 4/8, FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship
Based: Auckland, New Zealand
Liaison distance: 1,243.96km
Competitive distance: 413.94km
Total distance: 1,657.90km
Pre-event press conference: Viaduct Events Centre (Thursday June 21, 1730)
Post-event press conference: Viaduct Events Centre (Sunday June 24, 1615)
Time difference: Auckland is GMT+12hrs
Friday June 22
Start Auckland 0600
SS1 Te Hutewai 1 (11.18km)
SS2 Whaanga Coast 1 (29.67km)
SS3 Te Akau South 1 (31.82km)
SS4 Te Akau North 1 (32.13km)
Remote service Raglan 1237
SS5 Te Hutewai 2 (11.18km)
SS6 Whaanga Coast 2 (29.67km)
SS7 Te Akau South 2 (31.82km)
SS8 Te Akau North 2 (32.13km)
Service Auckland 1842
Saturday June 23
SS9 Batley (17.61km) 0913
SS10 Mititai 1 (23.22km) 1001
SS11 Girls High School 1 (26.99km)
Remote service Whangarei 1144
SS12 Waipu Gorge (11.38km)
SS13 Brooks (13.60km) 1425
SS14 Mititai 2 (23.22km) 1508
SS15 Girls High School 1 (26.99km)
Service Auckland 1900
Sunday June 24
SS16 Burnside/Wech Access 1 (7.30km)
SS17 Puhoi 1 (17.94km) 0826
SS18 Auckland Domain 1 (2.05km)
Service Auckland 1004
SS19 Auckland Domain 2 (2.05km)
SS20 Puhoi 2 (17.94km) 1236
SS21 Ahura (6.75km) 1309
SS22 Burnside/Wech Access 2 (7.30km)
Finish Auckland 1530
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