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Logistics and the Rugby World Cup look to have forced Rally New Zealand off the 2011 calendar of the FIA World Rally Championship, but that doesn’t mean that the event won’t be back on the 2012 and future WRC calendars.
 
“Since it was announced that there was a risk Rally New Zealand was to be deleted permanently from the WRC calendar, we have been working to ensure that this was not the case,” says Chris Carr, chairman of the Rally New Zealand board.
 
“We were allocated a date for 2011, but it was right in the period of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, so that was not feasible,” says Carr, who has been in constant contact with WRC promoters North One Sport over recent weeks.
 
“The WRC calendar is heavily influenced by the logistics of moving all of the teams and equipment around the world, and a significant portion of the equipment is shipped by sea. The shipping schedules dictated an event in September or October 2011. We had no desire to conflict with the RWC and had to decline those dates.”
 
Carr says they then looked at dates on either side of the RWC, but again, struck issues such as access to key venues like Queens Wharf.
 
“New Zealand is still listed as a reserve event for 2011, but the logistics reduce the likelihood of that occurring,” adds Carr.
 
“Of course, it’s disappointing, but all is not lost and our efforts will now be applied to ensuring a workable date on the 2012 WRC calendar.
 
“In the meantime, we celebrate the 40th running of Rally New Zealand in 2010 by making sure this year’s event is run to the highest possible standard to ensure that we retain our place in 2012.
 
“As we said before, the best thing fans can do to show their support for Rally New Zealand and their desire to see the event back in New Zealand at the earliest possible opportunity is to get out and watch the 2010 event. Get out to the prime spectator points around the Whangarei, Kaipara, Franklin, North Waikato and Franklin districts, come down to SKYCITY Auckland on Sunday 2 May for the driver autograph signing session, enjoy the massive day of action at Hampton Downs on Saturday 8 May and come along to the ceremonial start and finish in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour.
 
“Our event is highly-regarded, there’s no doubt. It has considerable value to New Zealand in terms of international profile and we continue to talk with all parties as we work towards a suitable date in 2012.
 
“Now, let’s turn our attention to next week’s Rally New Zealand and celebrate the wonderful heritage of rallying created by the many hundreds of competitors and thousands of volunteers and fans who have helped make this a truly world-class event over the past 40 years.”
 
Rally New Zealand 2010 takes place from 6 to 9 May with numerous pre-event activities starting this Sunday, 2 May at SKYCITY Auckland. More information is available on www.rallynz.org.nz.
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