As the organising committee of the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa prepare for their New Zealand Rally Championship event, they are shocked and stunned to be once again sending their messages of support to the people of Christchurch and Canterbury.

The “motorsport family” is strong and supportive at the best of times, and now at the worst of times it is reaching out to support and comfort those in need. “Our thoughts are certainly with all of our “extended family” and the wider community in Christchurch”, says Rally Chairman John Clunie.

While we all look to support those in need the best ways we can, the organising committee continue with the job of making the weekend of 28th and 29th May one to remember.

This year the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa and the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally will traverse many familiar roads, but it is in effect a new route, with an increased number of competitive kilometres to go with it.

“We’ve used all of the roads before, but this year many are being used in reverse direction”, says Clerk of the Course Dave Davies. “It changes the whole nature of the road, so it will be challenging”. The topography creates the interest, where what might have been a mainly downhill stage will now be uphill, which changes the way it needs to be attacked and driven.

With the crews making a welcome return to the small town of Pongaroa and the roads surrounding it on the Saturday, it is a revised grouping of stages and roads around Eketahuna on the Sunday that will complete the overall challenge. The result being that the competitors will take on 158km of gravel throwing on Saturday and another 126km on the Sunday, to make a very enjoyable total of 284km for the event.

As in previous years the Geartech Central Region Rally Series will be contested over the Saturday stages only. However, with an impressive 158km over 8 stages, the regional competitors will be getting great value from their day.

News that the NZ Rally Championship is now being promoted by Rally New Zealand has added impetus and excitement to this event. “It is great news to have the dedicated team from Rally NZ put a focus back on the sport at a national level. We know how good they are at promoting Rally New Zealand internationally, so promoting the national championship is a logical move for them”, says John Clunie.

“For our Wairarapa event we are very happy with the timing. It suits the weather and the local residents best” adds Dave Davies. “Being the third round of the championship means we should see the competitors at their best”.

With a number of new cars having been purchased and many of the existing championship cars upgraded over the summer break, the competition at national championship level will be hotter than ever. “By the time they get to our event they should have things sorted to be able to just drive flat out”, say Clunie. “The roads aren’t rough. Our event has always been a test of driver ability over car durability”.

The huge success of the inaugural Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally has set a fantastic platform. “We are working hard to build on that, and have had significant interest from overseas”, says Clunie

Being the second round of the Classic Challenge Trophy - teamed up with the internationally renowned Otago Classic Rally - will again offer the classic competitors the opportunity to test themselves in a mini series. The advantage this year being that there is only 6 weeks between the two events.

Last year the battle royal was between Derek Ayson in the Nissan powered Ford Escort, against Regan Ross in his more conventional version. However the appearance of some “new” classic cars in the NZRC Historic section could throw a cat amongst the pigeons. Entries at the Otago event include Ray Wilson in an Audi Quattro, and Marcus van Klink in a RX7 Group B replica.

“That is the fantastic thing about the classic rally. We were impressed by the entries last year, and we are excited about the possibilities for this year” says Clunie.

Now as the team put the finishing touches to the event, the Wairarapa waits for the sound of high horsepower and the sight of spectacular sideways action.
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