China Central Television (CCTV), with an audience of 1.1 billion viewers, is one of the 39 media outlets covering this weekend’s International Rally of Whangarei.
Of the 70 media personnel accredited to cover the rally which uses roads through the Kaipara and Whangarei districts, eleven are from China. For most it will be their first visit to New Zealand as they follow the three-car Soueast Motor Kumho team entered in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) component of the event. Another five media, with combined circulation figures running into the millions, travel from India to cover the two-car MRF Tyres team headed by defending APRC champion Katsuhiko Taguchi, from Japan.
“The largest-ever APRC field entered for this year’s International Rally of Whangarei has helped attract this very strong media contingent which puts the event and the regions in front of an enormous audience,” says rally chairman Laurie Brenssell. “The combined circulation from all these visiting journalists covers a large part of the world’s population – this is the sort of coverage that money can’t buy and that’s significant in these tougher economic times. Whangarei will be on the map as a city and tourist destination that hosts world-class sporting events.
“It’s significant both the Chinese and Indian teams have recruited such strong media support; they recognise the strength of the APRC, not only as a tier of the World Rally Championship but for its level of competition. New Zealand, as a destination, is significant on the APRC calendar and our roads are known as some of the best in the world. We can expect to see a very intense battle for event honours, especially with our own Hayden Paddon as part of the line-up. He is the benchmark at the moment as the current leader of the Production World Rally Championship and having won this event three times before.
Television viewers in more than 125 countries enjoy coverage of this event through APRC.TV Limited which shoots, produces and distributes all TV programming and footage for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and is run and managed by New Zealander Brian Young. In 2009 the series was watched by a measured audience of 390 million viewers. APRC.TV produces feature programmes for broadcast on major sports television networks such as ESPN STAR Sports Asia, Guangdong TV China, Motors-TV Europe, Fox Sports Australia, Television New Zealand and WRC Rally World, as well as airline in-flight broadcasts, YouTube and other websites.
Brenssell also noted Whangarei’s hospitality industry will be bursting at the seams with the influx of visitors. “We know from an organiser’s perspective that most accommodation in Whangarei is booked out, which means restaurants and the associated hospitality industry will benefit with those staying or visiting for the weekend because of the rally. Also, most of the international teams are here for the week prior, so contribute to the economy for more than just the weekend. “New Zealand is known for its fresh food and great hospitality, which becomes quite a treat for many of our visitors. We know it’s a positive message they will take home to further improve our chances of further tourist visits in the future,” added Brenssell.
The event features a 76-strong field across three main categories – APRC, Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) and Clubmans teams. Star drivers Paddon and Taguchi are joined by current APRC point’s leader and former World Rally Championship driver Chris Atkinson along with his Proton team-mate Alister McRae, along with Soueast Motor Kumho Team lead driver Fan Fan, from China, and Taguchi’s MRF team-mate Gaurav Gill, from India, offering further interest for the international media contingent.
Adding another dimension are Kiwis Richard Mason and Emma Gilmour who are both driving for APRC team points – Mason for Soueast Motor Kumho Team and Gilmour for Team MRF – as well as their own NZRC points. Friday’s driver autograph session and ceremonial start in Cameron Street Mall in downtown Whangarei offer a fun, free opportunity for rally fans to enjoy the excitement of this international motorsport event.
The autograph session starts at 3:30pm and continues straight into the official start ceremony. The rally itself starts on Saturday morning, taking competitors as far south as Maungaturoto and back to Whangarei for the super special stage at Pohe Island.
The event wraps up with the ceremonial finish at Quayside Town Basin 3:30pm on Sunday afternoon. Prime spectator viewing areas are shown on the official rally map available from the event website, www.rallywhangarei.co.nz, or from rally headquarters at Whangarei’s Quayside Town Basin.