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The latest version of Subaru’s Impreza WRX makes its competition debut in New Zealand this weekend at the NAC Insurance Hella International Rally of Whangarei (6-8 June 2008).
 
Kiwi rally fans have a chance to see the new-look hatchback during the Whangarei event, which is the third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and also the third round of the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship. Just one of the new cars is being run by Japan’s Subaru Team Arai for Takuma Kamada and co-driver Naoki Kase who have yet to score points in the 2008 APRC series.
 
Thirty-two teams entered for the international event, but India’s Gaurav Gill, the third MRF Tyres entry, will not be appearing after being unable to secure medial clearance from a broken leg sustained in a motorbike accident.
 
Using fifteen stages covering 256.32km of roads with areas of thick gravel, the first run through Saturday’s eight special stages are expected to affect the first few cars that sweep a clear line. However a softer road base could disadvantage subsequent drivers with choice of tyre compound and tread pattern a crucial factor to performance.
 
Sunday’s remaining seven tests are expected to be over cleaner swept roads.
 
With the action starting on Saturday morning using roads in the Maungaturoto and Waipu regions, weather for the weekend is expected to be variable. Potential showers and rain later on Saturday would alleviate dust and favour the road-sweeping position by leading competitor Australia’s Cody Crocker.
 
Further showers are expected on Sunday morning, but cool southerlies should clear the skies for the 3pm official finish at Whangarei’s Quayside Town Basin.
 
Caption: Subaru Team Arai make final preparations for the debut of the 2008 Subaru Impreza which makes its competition debut in New Zealand at this weekend's NAC Insurance Hella International Rally of Whangarei (6-8 June 2008). Photo: Lance Hastie.
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