Status quo for Rally New Zealand
- 4th April 2007, 1:46pm
A thumb's up from world rally officials has resulted in an unchanged route for this year's Rally of New Zealand to be staged in and around the Waikato.
The release of Rally Guide 1 for Rally New Zealand the 11th round of the World Rally Championship has confirmed that the event will again be based in Hamilton with Mystery Creek Events Centre as rally base and will utilise roads in the Waitomo, Otorohanga, Raglan and Franklin regions from 30 August to 2 September.
Rally New Zealand has been delighted with feedback from teams, drivers and FIA officials for roads that returned to the 2006 event, which was the first based in Hamilton.
It was the first time that a central service park has been used for Rally New Zealand which offered the opportunity for a Super Special Stage, rally show, general entertainment as well as the service park as a magnet for motorsport and general sports fans.
"It was the 37th time that we have staged Rally New Zealand and there were a lot of new additions to the event with the move to Hamilton and the central service park at Mystery Creek with some outstanding rally road's returning to the event with some being used after many years out of the WRC," said Willard Martin Clerk of the Course of Rally New Zealand.
"We were pleased with things first time up although some pretty awful weather provided a few challenges.
"Mystery Creek is a wonderful facility and it's the first time we could showcase our sport right in front of spectators. It didn't matter if you were a hardened rally fan or a first time viewer, there was a huge amount of interest all in one spot.
"That's something that has not been able to be achieved even on the major European rallies and it's something we are keen to grow."
One change in this area is the inclusion of a Super Special Stage at Mystery Creek on each day of the rally.
Mr Martin said the feedback on the roads for the rally has been excellent.
"The drivers class New Zealand roads as among the best in world rallying. And they certainly enjoyed the roads we presented last year, so much so that we have no real need to make any changes this time around."
The shakedown takes place at Mystery Creek on Thursday 30 August ahead of the Ceremonial Start in downtown Hamilton on Thursday evening.
The rally proper begins on Friday 31 August with two special stages at Pirongia West and the renamed Waitomo, the gruelling 43.88km stage which is one of the longest and most testing in world rallying.
The stages are repeated in the afternoon and the day finishes with the Super Special at Mystery Creek.
Day Two involves three special stages in the Franklin region including two signature stages, Possum and Franklin which were pivotal in the 2006 event. Possum and Franklin have been renamed for the 2007 event recognising the local area. The Mystery Creek Superspecial on Saturday is now in the middle of the day before the drivers head to the North Waikato in the afternoon for two testing stages, Te Akau South and Te Akau North.
The final day is again based in the Raglan region with three special stages in the morning, a remote service in Raglan before the stages are repeated, finishing with the much acclaimed Whaanga Coast stage.
The rally is completed with the third Super Special at Mystery Creek on Sunday afternoon.
"The World Rally Championships have been exceptionally close this year with podium placings already being decided once this year on the final Super Special Stage in Monte Carlo. So there's every chance that the Super Special at Mystery Creek on the final day could decide the outcome.
"We also wanted to honour the regions and the communities that the rally goes through. We could not run this event without the support of those communities so it was only right and proper to recognise the Waitomo and Franklin regions along with the other areas that host this event.
"In terms of rallying in this country, Possum Bourne will always hold a special place in our sport and in our hearts. We are delighted that his family agreed to let us name the stage near his hometown of Pukekohe. This was a deciding stage of the rally last year and it is fitting to have such a challenging and pivotal stage named after Possum."
There will be a total of 361km of special stages, with Marcus Gronholm (Ford) back to defend his title.
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