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Top Kiwi rally teams get to square off against offshore rivals at this year’s International Rally of Whangarei, in association with the Brian Green Property Group over the weekend 18-19 May – the only time this year an FIA international category event will be held in New Zealand.

The opening round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship will bring teams from a multitude of countries including Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and around New Zealand to Whangarei for the week.

Using Whangarei’s Quayside Town Basin as the event hub the adjoining car park will become a mini village of shipping containers and service vehicles as teams prepare the cars for the 16 special stages and journey of 727.56km.

The seventh time the event has run out of Whangarei it will be the only chance for New Zealand fans to see international competition on its shores with the usually held World Rally Championship event rostered for Australia this year.

“This year brings additional focus to Whangarei with Toyota joining the Asia Pacific Rally Championship,” says event chairman Laurie Brenssell.
“And their first appearance in the new specification Vitz – known as the Yaris in New Zealand, will be at Whangarei. Add other international teams coming to New Zealand our own championship contenders have plenty to aim for when it comes to bragging rights.”

The first four years the event was won outright by New Zealand competitors, once by Timaru’s Chris West and three times by Geraldine’s Hayden Paddon.
Paddon went on to win the FIA Production World Rally Championship in 2011 and will make a return to compete at Whangarei for this year.

“Hayden Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard bring some additional competition for the international hot-shots so it is fair to say the event will have one of the most exciting line-ups ever.”

Changes to the competition criteria will see teams split in two different groups with the offshore competitors and internationally eligible cars running ahead of most of the New Zealand championship contenders.

Televised coverage of the competition over roads throughout the Whangarei and Kaipara districts will be shown world-wide, through a network of broadcasters to 118 countries and 463 million households.

The rally itself gets underway on Friday 17 May with a pre-event autograph session in the Cameron St mall from 3:30pm. The ceremonial start begins at 4:30pm with all the competing crews and cars taking part before being parked for the night ahead of Saturday’s action. Leaving Whangarei from 8am the route takes competitors over roads around Parahi in the south-west, Waipu Caves and Brooks – including the ‘Hella’ jump on Swamp Rd. They return to Whangarei for the brand new 1.5km Pohe Island ‘Super Special’ stage before a 20minute service break at the Town Basin. The route is repeated in the afternoon with the cars then parked overnight following the service break.
Sunday begins at 6:55am and heads south through Waipu Gorge and on to Marohemo and Batley road, visiting Paparoa and Cassidy road before returning to Whangarei for a 20 minute service break. The teams repeat the stages in the early afternoon, returning to the Quayside Town Basin for a ceremonial finish from 3:15pm.

Spectators can watch for free at the start, finish and Quayside Town Basin service areas with access to rural viewing points, including the Pohe Island ‘Super Special’ stage costing just $10 per adult. Children under the age of 15 are free with a paying adult. A share of all spectator ticket revenue goes to the local community groups that help run the spectator viewing areas.
A rally map, with clearly-marked spectator viewing points, is available free to download from the event website www.rallywhangarei.co.nz, or it can be collected from rally headquarters at Quayside Town Basin (from 16 May) or found in the rally insert published in the Northern Advocate on 15 May.

Further news and ticketing information can be found on the www.rallywhangarei.co.nz website, or follow the event on Facebook.

2013 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar

Round 1 - 18 to 19 May - International Rally of Whangarei
Round 2 - 15 to 16 June - Rallye de Nouvelle Calédonie
Round 3 – 13 to 14 July - Rally Queensland
Round 4 – 24 to 25 August - Malaysian Rally
Round 5 – 28 to 29 September - Rally Hokkaido, Japan
Round 6 – 2 to 3 November - China Rally
Round 7 – 7 to 8 December – Thailand Rally

2013 New Zealand Rally Championship calendar

Round 1 – 5 to 7 April – Drivesouth Rally Otago
Round 2 – 18 to 19 May - International Rally of Whangarei
Round 3 – 29 June – Daybreaker Rally, Manawatu
Round 4 – 11 August – Canterbury Rally
Round 5 – 7 September – 10th Anniversary Possum Bourne Memorial Rally sponsored by Vantage
Round 6 – 5 October – Wairarapa Rally

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