New Zealand is the Opening Round of 2012 APRC

The International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand will open both the NZ national and Asia Pacific rally seasons in 2012 with the event scheduled to run from 30 March to 1 April.


The March-April dates are three months earlier in the year than recent years when the highly-regarded international motorsport event has typically taken place in June or July on roads around the Northland and Kaipara regions. Therefore both the 2012 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and the 2012 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) will feature The International Rally of Whangarei as the first round.


The event’s sporting manager Willard Martin says personnel at Rally of New Zealand Ltd, who run the Whangarei event and the NZRC, are now progressing well with plans to start next year’s rally season a little earlier than usual.


“Yes, it’s unusual to commence the rally season at the end of summer, overlapping with the circuit racing season, but this is a more convenient time to be using the rural roads around Northland and Kaipara which make our event so distinctive. The other option – which we declined – was a late July or early August slot. The March-April scheduling also provided the best fit for the logistics of moving an increasing number of competitors around the six-round Asia Pacific series,” says Martin, who plans the rally route.


Organising committee chairman Laurie Brenssell is excited to see the Whangarei rally take a leading role for the 2012 season.


“The 2011 Asia Pacific series was one of the most competitive and exciting in recent years with stars such as Scot Alister McRae and Australian Chris Atkinson teaming up in matching Proton Satria Neo Super 2000 rally cars and Indian Gaurav Gill and Japan’s Katsu Taguchi in the MRF Tyres-based Mitsubishis,” says Brenssell.


“At this year’s International Rally of Whangarei, we had 22 teams competing for APRC points – significantly more APRC competitors than in previous years. Atkinson led the APRC after July’s Whangarei event, but then McRae won both Rally Hokkaido in Japan and Rally China run in the Guangdong province to take the APRC drivers’ championship and help win the manufacturers’ championship for his team, Proton.


“Based on what we know so far, competitor numbers and manufacturer numbers are looking even stronger for the 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. It’s very significant for rallying worldwide to secure the interest and investment of more vehicle manufacturers. It also means that Kiwi rally fans can enjoy yet another highly competitive, action-packed event on the world-famous roads between Whangarei and the top of the Kaipara Harbour . And, of course, we hope that New Zealand ’s history-making world production car rally champion Hayden Paddon will be able to contest our Whangarei event and help test our championship contenders.”


The 2012 running of the International Rally of Whangarei will be the sixth time New Zealand ’s APRC event has been based in Whangarei. Prior to 2007, the local APRC round was based in Rotorua.


Rally organisers will release more details regarding the rally route, entertainment and spectator activities and other key details in coming months.



PHOTOS BY:  Marcel Stawiczny


2012 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship calendar

Round 1 – 30 March to 1 April – International Rally of Whangarei

Round 2 – 28 to 29 April – Rallye de Nouvelle Calédonie

Round 3 – 26 to 27 May – Rally Queensland

Round 4 – 14 to 15 July – Malaysian Rally

Round 5 – 15 to 16 September – Rally Hokkaido

Round 6 – 3 to 4 November – China Rally


2012 New Zealand Rally Championship calendar

Round 1 – 30 March to 1 April – International Rally of Whangarei

Round 2 – 20 to 22 April – Rally Otago

Round 3 – 12 to 13 May – Rally Wairarapa

Round 4 – 21 to 24 June – Rally New Zealand (incorporating Possum Bourne Memorial Rally)

Round 5 – 25 to 26 August – Rally Gisborne

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