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The Otago Rally will return to its traditional May date in 2008, with the expectation that more settled weather will make things more pleasant for competitors, officials and spectators alike.

Widely regarded as the best event on the New Zealand Rally Championship calendar, the event will once again host a round of the national championship, as well as the increasingly popular International Classic Rally of Otago, and the Allcomers Rally.

“Planning for the 2008 rally is well under way,” event spokesman, Roger Oakley, said today. “We are considering some new initiatives for the event, but will keep the features and stages of the rally that have proven so popular in previous years.”

Next year’s Otago Rally looks likely to run on May 10 and 11, subject to final ratification by Motor Sport New Zealand, the Otago Sports Car Club are surging ahead with their plans for the 2008 rally.

Held a month earlier in 2007, in April, the popular Dunedin-based event was subjected to snow, rain and high winds as the fight for the New Zealand Rally Championship and the Otago Classic Rally raged on.

New Zealand Champion, Richard Mason, took overall victory in the rally, while Christchurch’s Deane Buist beat a star-studded line up in the International Classic Rally, including former WRC star Alex Fiorio, and two-time Australian Rally Champion, Geoff Portman.

“We have already been receiving enquiries from Australian competitors, and we again hope to have a large number of competitors cross the Tasman for the rally,” Oakley added.

The Otago Classic Rally was featured on Australian television last weekend with a one-hour review of the event, which has heightened interest in the rally even further.

The successful Rossendale Rally Team again look like having a strong presence at the rally next year. Having run Escort RS1800s and Porsches for drivers such as Bjorn Waldegard, Hannu Mikkola, Juha Kankkunen and Jimmy McRae in past years, the team are well advanced in their planning and are expected to confirm a two-car assault on the rally in the near future.

Details on the Otago Rally are available from the event website at: www.otagorally.co.nz

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