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New Zealand has been confirmed on the calendar for next year’s World Rally Championship.   

The FIA World Motorsport Council confirmed New Zealand's place on the WRC calendar in 2008, with the  New Zealand Round set for August 28 to 31. 

New Zealand will be the 11th round of the World Rally  Championship and 5th Round of the Production World Rally Championship.    With the unexpected late withdrawal from the calendar of Australia, Rally New Zealand remains as one of only  two rounds in the Asia Pacific Region along with Japan.   

“We are delighted with this news,” said Rally New Zealand chairman Chris Carr. “There are an increasing number of countries with massive commercial and government funding to back their campaigns wanting to get  into the World Rally Championship.   

“The championship draws a worldwide television audience of over 800 million and we are facing considerable  pressures from competing countries.   

“While Rally New Zealand cannot match the dollars from these countries, we concentrate on producing the  best rally for competitors and fans – and our roads are still considered among the very best in the World Rally  Championship.   

“It’s pleasing that these attributes are recognized so strongly by the FIA. Now our planning can begin in  earnest, and uppermost for us this year is to find a naming sponsor.”   

There were also a number of regulation changes also approved for the 2008 season, the most significant is  the running order which will see the rally leader being the first car on the road on day two and three. At present  the rally leader on points is first off on day one, and then the start order is reversed for WRC cars for the  second and third days.   

Rally New Zealand Clerk of the Course, Willard Martin, said the change will make for an interesting approach.   

“The regulation change for running order will add further tactics to our event as on a dry gravel stage the first  car on the road can suffer a disadvantage as they will have to sweep the roads for the following cars,” Martin  said.   

“That might allow for those behind to close the gap on the leader. Equally if it is wet then the first car on the road has a distinct advantage.”    

There have been other changes mooted for the 2009 season including the possibility of mixed surface (gravel  and tarmac) events and increased stage mileage up to 400km from the current 360km.

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