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New Zealand's round of the FIA World Ralaly Championship, Rally New Zealand, will return to Auckland in 2010.

Organisers have confirmed an agreement with Auckland City Council, supported by Tourism Auckland, which sees the major event based in Auckland from 6 to 9 May, 2010.

“We’re delighted to bring Rally New Zealand back to Auckland with the largest population base in the country,” says Chris Carr, chairman of the rally organisation.

“We extend our sincere thanks to Hamilton City Council, Mystery Creek Events Centre and the many organisations which have helped Rally New Zealand be a fantastic event in the Waikato over the past three years.

“However, many positive opportunities become available with the shift back to Auckland, not least the much closer access for larger numbers of rally fans to all the rally action, teams, drivers and cars, which we are optimistic will contribute to a very vibrant and successful running of Rally New Zealand in May 2010.

“Rally New Zealand is one of the WRC drivers’ most popular rallies. They absolutely love driving on New Zealand roads – just as we have a great heritage of getting out and enjoying the top level skills of these drivers among our beautiful scenery,” says Carr.

Rally New Zealand’s clerk of course, Willard Martin says a central city location is being confirmed for the event’s headquarters, while the service park, where fans can see WRC teams work on their rally cars, will be located on Queens Wharf before it undergoes a transformation into a publicly-accessible open space.

“With the move back to Auckland, we have the opportunity to take the rally route both north and south of our largest city, offering excellent spectator viewing,” says Martin.

Auckland city Mayor John Banks is thrilled to have secured another major event for Auckland.

“Not only will Rally New Zealand provide an economic boost and increase the profile of Auckland through the associated broadcast opportunities, it allows Aucklanders to get up close to the excitement,” says Banks.

The event attracts extensive worldwide television coverage with an estimated audience of over 50 million in 186 countries, and is expected to inject $12.7m into the Auckland economy.

Tourism Auckland chief executive, Graeme Osborne, says he’s delighted Auckland will host this world-class event.

“The World Rally Championship puts Auckland in the international limelight once again, and will provide a boost in visitor numbers and spend for the region. I look forward to welcoming the international media, rally teams and their fans here next year,” says Osborne.

The agreement between Rally New Zealand and Auckland City Council covers the next three occurrences of the event, says Carr.

“With the way the WRC calendar is currently scheduled, after 2010, the next Rally New Zealand will be in Auckland in 2012. However we are working hard to put New Zealand back onto the WRC calendar on an annual basis. We note that Rally Finland has just signed a five year deal with the WRC promoters, ISC, to again run an annual event. Like Rally New Zealand, Rally Finland was affected by the FIA decision to go to an alternating biennial schedule between rallies around the world.”

Rally New Zealand was based in Hamilton in 2008, 2007 and 2006, with its headquarters and service park at Mystery Creek Events Centre. Prior to 2006 the event – the longest running world championship event in New Zealand – was based in Auckland for 28 years.

Rally New Zealand takes place from 6 to 9 May 2010 and is expected to be the fifth round of a 13-round 2010 FIA World Rally Championship.

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