Night Super Special in Whangarei

Sanjay TakaleUpping the competitive ante for teams contesting the 11 to 13 April running of the VINZ International Rally of Whangarei will be the Saturday night action at the William Fraser Memorial Park location of Pohe Island.

The Hella Pohe Island Super Special stage venue accounts for two of the 14 speed tests competitors from India, Japan, China, Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand will be challenged by. As the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, driven by VINZ (NZRC) and Top Half Rally Series (THS) there will be a variety of makes and model of car from brand new factory supported ŠKODAs to forty year old Ford Escorts.

The rally itself beings with a signing session (3:30pm) and ceremonial start at the Cameron Street Mall from 4:30pm Friday 11 April – ahead of the weekend’s action. Following six special stages to the north of Whangarei on the Saturday teams then return to tackle the short-sharp 1.25km Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage from 7pm. The first time the event has run cars in the dark, lighting towers will illuminate areas spectators can take advantage of.

Preceding the special stage will be a number of activities run by Whangarei Lions Club groups. Activity starts at 3:30pm with the Mitre 10 Mega Whangarei TriKids Duathlon that includes a cycling and running course to challenge keen kids between ages 5 to 13 years. Entry of $15 includes a gear pack and entry for one adult to the venue – that includes the evening running of the Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage.

Other activities during the afternoon include emergency services exercise (watch for the NEST rescue helicopter and police dog handlers) plus school bands and dancer groups. Attractions include the bouncy castle, clowns, face painting, pony rides and a variety of food outlets including Hell Pizza, Leechee Seng, Mr Whippy, Paparoa Lions Club and Kawaka Lions Club fundraisers.

Prizegiving for the Mitre10 Mega Whangarei TriKids Duathlon will be held at 6pm – just prior to the first of the safety car checks of the rally stage.

Lights go green for the first rally car at 7pm with the second car starting 30 seconds later. The action intensifies with each passing car – having started in reverse seeded order, meaning the events fastest cars will start last.
Their second attempt is expected to start 40 minutes later.

“This is a really exciting initiative that brings a greater level of action to the Pohe Island venue, that mixes the grunt of the Mitre10 Mega Whangarei TriKids Duathlon and Lions group activities with the best rally drivers in the Asia Pacific – in one family friendly venue,” says Laurie Brenssell, chairman of the VINZ International Rally of Whangarei organising committee.

“After a day’s competition most cars and drivers will be on their game – and some may even sport a few scars as they tackle the Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage. One thing is for sure – they won’t be taking it easy and the challenge of darkness with lights may throw a few off course – so be ready for spills.”

The cars are then securely parked for the night ahead of a further six special stages to be held south of Whangarei on the Sunday. They then return to the Quayside Town Basin for a ceremonial finish from 3pm in the afternoon.

Access to the Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage and Lions Club Family Fun Day is off Port Road. Use the car parking adjacent to the Hatea Bridge and walk across to get access to the area. Riverside Road access will be closed.

Spectating at the rally start, finish and Quayside Town Basin service areas are free with access to rural viewing points costing just $10 per adult per day and $15 for the Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage. Children under the age of 15 are free with a paying adult and paddock parking is available at some locations for a gold coin donation.
A share of all spectator ticket revenue goes to the local community groups that help run the spectator viewing areas.

A rally map is available free to download from the event website www.rallywhangarei.co.nz (in the spectator info section), or it can be collected from rally headquarters at Quayside Town Basin (from 9 April) or found in the rally insert published in the Northern Advocate on 9 April.

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


Wurth Renews Partnership

Wurth partners with APRCAfter a successful first year, the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) is pleased to confirm that the German market leader in assembly products, Würth, has agreed to continue as an official supplier to the APRC in 2014.

“Our first year working with the Asia Pacific Rally Championship was a great success and we had no hesitation in renewing our agreement. Car rallying is the ideal environment to demonstrate the strength and durability of Würth’s vehicle service and tool brands. Our distributors at each event are able to work closely with some of the world’s best rally teams and engineers, sharing our technical knowledge and learning so much from them, too,” said Mr Peter Zuern, head of the Würth Line worldwide.

Deputy Member of the Würth Group’s Executive Board, Mr Benjamin Würth added: “Rally sport at this level uses the very latest car technology, but it’s also held in extreme and rough conditions. Only the tough survive and maintaining the rally cars is a vital part of the competition, where high quality products and tools are an integral part of this spectacular sport – it’s a great partnership for Würth.”

For all the leading teams and APRC organisers, Würth’s continuation as a partner in the championship is seen as a huge boost.

“It’s absolutely a win-win for everyone,” says APRC President Steven Kennedy. He adds, “The competitors have free access to the industries’ best products and technical information, while Würth makes a substantial contribution for the event organisers to our operating budget that we in turn use to fund the international television and media package. Würth have also added a new element to the service-park with high-profile and colourful sales and exhibition spaces, and when they promote and advertise the partnership throughout their respective regions, they are promoting the APRC too.”

Würth is a worldwide leader in assembly products within the automotive, construction and engineering industries and a large range of Würth products, along with technical advice will be available at every APRC event.


Whangarei kicks off NZ Rally Season

Photo courtesy of rallywhangarei.co.nzNext month’s VINZ International Rally of Whangarei brings teams and crew from countries such as India and the Czech Republic for New Zealand’s only FIA* international grade rally event for 2014.

Held from 11 to 13 April the event uses 241.11 km of flowing rural roads in the Far North and Whangarei regions of New Zealand’s upper North Island to test man, woman and their machines across closed sections called special stages. Teams competing score points toward either the opening round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, driven by VINZ (NZRC), or the Top Half Rally Series (THS). With the aim of setting fastest time across each of the 14 special stages, cars competing include latest specification factory backed ŠKODA Fabia S2000 4WD’s to yesteryear era Ford Escorts.

Based in Whangarei for the weekend, the teams service park and event headquarters are centred on the Quayside Town Basin – for the eighth consecutive year.

“Planning and organisation started straight after last year’s event and has been on-going for the past ten months. When each significant aspect is confirmed all the details bring greater demand as organisers, to where we have two staff now dealing with just administration,” says Laurie Brenssell, chairman of the organising committee – Rally of New Zealand.

“Plus there is a team that deals with the route plotting and getting all the mathematics lined up to ensure every aspect flows from the timing marshals, competitors, safety personnel, through to clean-up crews. Then there are the special stage co-ordinators and personnel looking after the likes of the start and finish ceremony.

“It is a very labour intensive process and that’s where support from rural road residents, their community groups, volunteers and local organisations such as NorthTec, provide additional personnel to make it all work. We’re also fortunate to have assistance from the Whangarei District Council who provide liaison with the local community and the ability to hire the much needed venues to make the weekend successful.

With over 40 years of operational expertise available from the event’s organising body, Brenssell says the Rally of New Zealand team brings essential resource to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“As New Zealand’s only FIA grade international rally event for this year every aspect of its operation is continual refinement for running Rally New Zealand – the World Rally Championship (WRC) event. Television footage of the event will be broadcast to 120 countries, giving us great exposure for when we return to the WRC calendar.”

Heading the line-up will be the factory backed ŠKODA team including 2013 defending APRC champions Gaurav Gill (India) and Glenn Macneall (Australia). They are joined this year by defending European Rally Championship pairing Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic) and Pavel Dresler (Czech Republic). In addition there will be teams from Japan, Australia and New Zealand – with others to be confirmed.

Following Friday night’s ceremonial start from the Cameron St Mall, teams embark on the competitive sections of the event from early Saturday morning. Adding to the competition stakes will be the number of new competitive tests – including the Saturday night running of the Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage – at Whangarei’s William Fraser Memorial Park. After that, and a second service break, the cars will be parked overnight before resuming competition early Sunday morning. They then return to the Quayside Town Basin for a ceremonial finish from 3pm in the afternoon.

Spectating at the start, finish and Quayside Town Basin service areas are free with access to rural viewing points costing just $10 per adult per day and $15 for the Hella Pohe Island Super Special Stage. Children under the age of 15 are free with a paying adult and paddock parking is available at some locations for a gold coin donation.
A share of all spectator ticket revenue goes to the local community groups that help run the spectator viewing areas.

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

Entries in seeded start order will be published on Monday 31 March.

* The FIA is Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the world governing body of motorsport.


Aus Round Stays in Caloundra

Photo courtesy of apsm.tvCompetitors from overseas and around Australia will be based at Caloundra’s Oaks Oasis Resort when the International Rally of Queensland returns to the Sunshine Coast on 20-22 June.

The 170-plus room resort also will be the organisational and media headquarters for the rally, one of the region’s biggest annual sporting events.

The International Rally of Queensland brings to the Sunshine Coast, 100 kms north of Brisbane, the fastest drivers in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship and supporting rally categories.

It attracts thousands of visitors and team members and enjoys dedicated television coverage in around 120 countries.

Event Director Paul Woodward said he was delighted the International Rally of Queensland was returning to Oaks Oasis for another year.

“Oaks Oasis is an annual home away from home for us and through our partnership over many years has become well known to rally teams from as far afield as Europe, India, Asia and the Pacific,” Mr Woodward said.

“It perfectly suits the needs of a large, complex event such as ours, with a range of different accommodation rooms for groups and individuals, all with wireless internet access, complimentary on-site parking, Reflections Restaurant and Bar, conference facilities and a garden setting complete with a lagoon and swimming pool.

“Teams returning this year also will find freshly-refurbished guest rooms and a new water play park, where they and their families can relax after a day’s hot competition.

“Finally, Oaks Oasis is ideally located. It’s close to the main north highway and access to the hinterland competition stages, while Caloundra itself offers everything a visitor needs, from beaches to restaurants to great shopping.”

Oaks Oasis General Manager Greg Guilford welcomed the rally back for another year.

“The International Rally of Queensland, with drivers and crews from up to a dozen countries plus Australia, exciting cars and lots of media attention, brings a special buzz to the Oaks Oasis Resort,” Mr Guilford said.

“It also brings to the region and individual tourism operators like us valuable direct economic benefit, plus worldwide media exposure we could not achieve any other way.

“We look forward to welcoming back the rally teams and their supporters.”

The resort’s Reflections Restaurant and Bar will host a rally after-party open to the public on Sunday night 22 June.

Accommodation can be booked on the Oaks Oasis Resort website, www.oakshotelsresorts.com.au/oaks-oasis.

The International Rally of Queensland is supported through Tourism and Events Queensland’s Regional Development Program as part of a growing calendar of events across the State.

The International Rally of Queensland also is supported by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.


MRF Back with Gill and Kopecky

Photo courtesy of apsm.tv2013 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) winner and MRF driver Gaurav Gill on Thursday confirmed that he and co-driver Glenn Macneall will defend their title with the Team MRF ŠKODA Fabia S2000 for the 2014 championship. Gill became the first Indian to win the prestigious APRC title and more importantly won it using MRF Tyres, adding yet another title to the leading Indian tyre manufacturer.

Team MRF Skoda will field two teams again with European Rally Championship winners Jan Kopecky and Pavel Dresler in the other car, an Adrenna Communications release said here on Thursday.

Gill was the first Indian to win the overall title but it was Sanjay Takale who won his class to become the first Indian APRC winner in any class.

Team MRF will be hoping to continue on their near perfect season last year, where they won five of the six APRC rounds throughout the season and totally dominated the championship. Team MRF will also be gunning for their third successive title after winning in 2012 with Chris Atkinson and 2013 with Gaurav Gill.

MRF is no stranger to APRC after being regular participants for over a decade. MRF is the only Indian Tyre manufacturer who develops rally tyres that are used internationally. The MRF R&D team work closely with the drivers to develop tyres for the different terrains and conditions. The MRF Tyres are prepared for all surfaces and conditions.

Jan KopeckyMr. Arun Mammen, Managing Director, MRF Tyres, commented, “We are thrilled to be defending our APRC title with Gaurav and Glenn. Having Jan and Pavel in the other Team MRF Skoda car further strengthens our intention and commitment to the sport. APRC has been a great platform for MRF to showcase how our tyres are adaptable to different conditions. The R&D team work really hard to ensure we give our drivers the best possible tyres to extract maximum from all terrains. Rallies take place on all surfaces and in all conditions from asphalt to gravel to dirt surfaces and it is our job to ensure that the tyres are competitive in all conditions. We are excited to continue our great relationship with Skoda and looking forward to the upcoming season. ”

Enroute to his 2013 APRC title, Gill took victories in the New Calendonian and Japanese rounds of the championship, while finishing second in New Zealand and China. His team-mate Esapekka Lappi, in his first APRC campaign, won three times, in China, New Zealand and Australia, but non-finishes in the other three events put him out of the championship running.

Gaurav Gill, who became the first Indian to win an FIA Championship was excited to defend his title. He commented “Firstly I would like to thank MRF and Skoda for their continuous commitment and support. We had a great season where we created history last year but now our focus is squarely on this year. I will be working much closer with the MRF R&D team as well to ensure we have the best possible tyres. These guys are capable of developing tyres to match the best in the world and together we hope to achieve this. We will not rest on our laurels and will continue to push to ensure that we are fighting for the title again.”

In 2014 six events make-up the championship starting in New Zealand in April with the fast and smooth roads at Rally of Whangarei. A month later is the tropical island paradise and rough roads of New Caledonia followed by Australia’s Sunshine Coast and the International Rally of Queensland. The APRC then heads to Asia to the very hot and humid Malaysian Rally based in Johor Bahru. Japan is next and the fast forestry and public roads of Rally Hokkaido, followed by the championship finale in the bamboo forests and mountains of Zhejiang province, China.

It will be big challenge for the European Rally Champion Jan Kopecký, known to be more of a tarmac specialist, and will have to adapt to the challenges of gravel surfaces. He commented, “It will be something special for me – new rallies, new territories and lot of them real exotic ones, and most importantly it will be completely different racing conditions. It will be great, I’m looking forward to working together with my co-driver Pavel Dresler. We had a fantastic season in 2013 and we look to continue that form with Team MRF Skoda this year as well. We have a good car, great team and perfect team-mate! And I hope Gaurav will give us lot good tips as well“.

Photos courtesy of apsm.tv and Jan Kopecky’s Facebook page.