APRC and World Rally Championship share same route

Motorsport enthusiasts will have a lots to get revved up about this year with two major rallies showering gravel on roads in Whangarei district.

Northlanders will get a double shot of rally action with Rally New Zealand and the International Rally of Whangarei using roads in the area during May and July.

Auckland is the base for Rally New Zealand in May but competitors including Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb and Ford rival Mikko Hirvonen will rev up on May 7 on Whangarei and Kaipara roads.

International Rally of Whangarei media manager Kate Gordon says Rally New Zealand, a round in the World Rally Championship, used the roads between Whangarei and Maungaturoto for a number of years when the event was based in Auckland up until 2005. Then the event went to Hamilton in 2006-2008.

“With the event moving its headquarters back to Auckland, we can use the fantastic rally roads of Kaipara and Northland.”

On Friday competitors complete eight rally stages in Whangarei and Kaipara. Between stages drivers head for a service park in Whangarei, likely to be at the Town Basin which will be open to the public. The rally brings people to the district and involves many local volunteers.

“We use 2500 volunteers, many from Whangarei and Maungaturoto. The event shares the proceeds from spectator tickets with the community groups in these areas, so we’re giving something back to the areas which allow us to use their roads,” says Ms Gordon.

After this event, the International Rally of Whangarei, part of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, will be churning up the gravel in July on some of the same roads as Rally New Zealand.

The Brooks stage of Rally New Zealand and Wairere stage on the Rally of Whangarei feature the Hella Bridge at Swamp Rd, Maungaturoto. It is the only stage repeated in both events because it is such an iconic rally stage.

The two-day Rally of Whangarei is based at the Town Basin with the rally headquarters, service park and ceremonial finish in central Whangarei. Whangarei District Council chief operating officer Jude Thompson says the district is set to once again benefit from motorsport events.

“For the third consecutive year we have the opportunity to host the International Rally of Whangarei. We estimate it has brought an economic benefit on average of $5 million a year into our district.”

Source: Denna Harris – Whangarei Leader