New Rally Format Boon For Kiwi Drivers
9 February 2004
Attention Sports Editors
New rally format boon for Kiwi drivers
The controversial new rally format could prove a godsend for Kiwi drivers in this year's Propecia Rally New Zealand.
The organisers of the rally, which is the fourth round of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championships, will run the new system where reconnaissance is carried out in the morning before the competitive run later in the day. The new system, touted by the FIA as a way to cut soaring costs, is no longer mandatory for this year's championship. But Rally New Zealand officials will retain the system, as they believe it is ideal for local competitors.
This year's world championship round in New Zealand from 15-18 April will no longer be part of the New Zealand Rally Championship, because of its timeframe at the start of the local season.
However Rally New Zealand organisers say the Mille Pistes format could be a real benefit with New Zealand drivers.
``Currently in the national championship, New Zealand drivers receive a set of driver's notes and then complete one reconnaissance pass over each stage before racing,'' Rally New Zealand chairman, Morrie Chandler said.
`` This is exactly what you can do in the Rally of New Zealand. You do not need to take part in the first recce pass on the Monday and Tuesday. Drivers' notes, the same as you have for national events will be available and you then use these for the second pass.
``The second recce pass will be run on the morning of the competitive stages - and you can do this in your rally car. So all you need to do is turn up in Auckland on Wednesday for scrutineering and get ready to compete.
``I believe this year's Rally New Zealand will be the least expensive of recent years. And you still have that one chance to compete with the big boys of world rally - and not just watch from the sidelines, or from the comfort of the armchair in front of the television screens.''
Mr Chandler said New Zealand was fortunate to still retain the event as a round of the World Rally Championship in the face of increasing costs to attract the world's best drivers so far away from Europe and to a country with such a small population base.
All five major works teams in the WRC, and all 20 of the World Production Car Championship and a number of international privateers have indicated they will travel to New Zealand for the rally in April.
The Propecia-sponsored event starts with two super special stages at Manukau City on the evening of Thursday 15 April. The first full day on Friday is in the Kaipara region before returning for two further super special stages at Manukau City. Saturday's racing returns to Kaipara, with the last day in the Waikato region near Raglan. The final stage will be the internationally acclaimed Whaanga Coast, with the ceremonial finish in downtown Auckland city on Sunday afternoon.