Six rounds, an international-focused double-header to open the season and a Hamilton Car Club-run rally are the features of a proposed 2019 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship calendar.
The proposed 2019 NZRC events were released today and see the championship repeat five of the six events on this year’s calendar – Otago Rally, International Rally of Whangarei, Rally Canterbury, Rally of South Canterbury and Goldrush Rally of Coromandel.
The final event will see a return to the Rally Waitomo event run by the Hamilton Car Club in 2017 featuring roads in the greater Waikato region.
The calendar is subject to MotorSport New Zealand approval and, in the case of Whangarei, FIA approval. The dates are yet to be set in stone but will be similar to those used this year.
“Starting the season with Otago Rally and then International Rally of Whangarei provides the sport with a great launching pad for the 2019 New Zealand Rally Championship season,” said NZRC coordinator Simon Bell.
“These two events attract the most overseas interest in our series currently and, as they are both two-day events, there is a great opportunity for overseas drivers to really have a “New Zealand Rally Experience”.
“The hope is that with them being three weeks apart international competitors will plan to stick around, have a bit of a holiday in between, enjoy the scenery and sample the local cuisine, and at the same time enter both events.”
Beyond the first two traditional events the NZRC team has managed to keep some consistency from year to year with the rest of the calendar.
“From Whangarei we move to Rally Canterbury in the long weekend of June,” he explained. “Then it moves to South Canterbury, which is a revised event from this year with a slightly different route. Then Goldrush Rally Coromandel and the final event will be run by the Hamilton Car Club in a Waikato-based event.
“That calendar is tentative – we are waiting for the approval of the Rally Whangarei date before we can lock in the NZRC dates.”
There had been some consideration given to some other rallies. Potential events in Nelson, Gisborne and Southland had made some noise about possibly putting up their hand for a round of the national championship while some competitors had talked about the idea of a tarmac round in somewhere like Taranaki.
In the end though it was decided that the existing events were best-placed to hold rounds in 2019.
“We did have some events put their hands up and we had a look at them but at the moment we are quite happy with the selection of six events,” Bell said. “They range from forest rallying all the way through to fast and flowing roads, while each of them have their own local flavour. We also have a nice mixture of one and two-day events.
“We did try and retain what we had from this year as 3 events in each island works well and balances the travel for the crews. Some events, like South Canterbury, have made changes to their route. The organising committee have taken onboard feedback and amended their event to remove the faster stages and switched some, as television crews had asked for stages to run the other way around so they can get some nice shots of the Southern Alps.”
The 2018 season concludes with Hyundai New Zealand Raglan Rally of the Coast in October.