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NZ’s WRC chances firming, according to rally chairman

RallySport Magazine | Australia's Best Rally Magazine
The Whaanga Coast on Rally New Zealand. Photo: Geoff Ridder

The chances of New Zealand regaining a round of the World Rally Championship seem to be increasing, with reports in the NZ press suggesting this will be the final year at Coffs Harbour.

As reported exclusively on RallySport Magazine last week, it is believe New Zealand may host a WRC round in 2020, giving Australia time to find a location that is more suitable to the WRC Promoter.

“We’re hopeful of having it back in 2020,” Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston told www.stuff.co.nz

“The WRC promoters aren’t keen to go back to Coffs Harbour, so they are thinking that maybe there’s an opportunity for New Zealand. We’re still actively right on it at the moment.

“It would be for one year and we’ve got a lot of support from Ateed (a branch of the Auckland Council),” he said.

“The New Zealand general public are desperate to have it back, but we are looking for a sponsor and we have got Australia trying to retain the event for 2020, so we’ll see what happens.”

New Zealand has a long history in the World Rally Championship. This is Ari Vatanen in the 1977 event. Photo: Holmes

“Auckland is always looking for ways to bring world-class events to the region, and a World Rally Championship event would present a very exciting addition,” Ateed’s head of major events, Stuart Turner, said.

“We would welcome the opportunity to host the world’s best drivers and to showcase Auckland internationally.

“Auckland is very proud of its history and interest in motorsport, having previously hosted World Rally Championship events and the annual Supercars Championship event, which regularly attracts tens of thousands of people every year.”

Rally New Zealand still need a significant major sponsor to come on board to ensure that they have enough funding for the rally.

“The Australians are fighting like crazy to retain the event there, but it would be wonderful to have it in New Zealand,” Johnston added.

“This will be the last year at Coffs Harbour and they’ll have to move it, even for 2021, they’re going to have to take it to a new venue.

“That’s easier said than done and we’re ready, we’ve got all the roads, we’ve got everything planned, we have good support, but we are after a naming rights sponsor.”

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Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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