Buzz surrounds return of international rally to Whangarei
Round 1, 2014 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - 11-14 april 2014
Mon 03.02.14, 4:04PM
This year’s eighth running of the International Rally of Whangarei has confirmed Czech Republic based ŠKODA factory personnel will be in attendance as one of the nationalities involved in the two day gravel competition that will swell the region’s population from 11 to 13 April.
Also the opening round (of seven) for the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) the event will again use sections of renowned rural roads across the greater Far North and Whangarei districts for timed special stages, where cars compete against the clock over its cambered and flowing surface.
Previously used by rounds of the World Rally Championship event Rally New Zealand, its organisers are the same who run the Whangarei edition – and is New Zealand’s only FIA international category event for 2014.
Again based from central Whangarei (160km north of Auckland) the headquarters, Service Park, parc fermé (overnight secure park) and ceremonial finish of the rally will all be centred upon the Quayside Town Basin precinct. With support from the Whangarei District Council and tertiary education institute NorthTec, the event’s organising Committee Chairman Mr Laurie Brenssell says they are two important groups that help make it all happen.
“Internationally televised coverage of the rally brings huge feedback on its road quality and wow factor of the region’s scenery – a real lure when we’re trying to entice teams to commit spending so much at coming all this way. That’s been our biggest hurdle of the past few years and the effort from the Whangarei District Council with personnel from NorthTec have been instrumental in keeping the event viable and exciting.
“While our gravel roads are regarded as the most exciting and exhilarating to drive the rally is also the test manufacturers such as ŠKODA pay close attention to in their quest to develop and sell a globally proven product. We’re again looking forward to that international competition coming to Whangarei – to showcase the region’s qualities,” adds Brenssell.
Entries for this year’s event close on 10 March – and are expected to include a two-car factory backed ŠKODA team as well as several other regular international entrants.
“As it’s still so early in the new year many teams have yet to put their season’s plans together. So we’ve got a bit of a wait until we know what the starting line-up will be, but we understand a Japanese based manufacturer will also be making a competitive presence.
Joining the international entrants will be New Zealand’s best, many of whom will be collecting points toward the six round New Zealand Rally Championship. The preening ground for talent such as the late Possum Bourne and now WRC competitor and past event winner Hayden Paddon, it is their only chance to measure up offshore talents while competing on home soil.