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Major Driver Announcement: Marcus van Klink

The spectacular fire-breathing Mazda RX8 of Marcus van Klink will be entertaining spectators at next month’s Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge.

The popular Van Klink has confirmed his entry in his iconic rotary-powered Mazda and will be one of the star attractions at the Sunday November 15 event that is fast selling out.

Held on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Auckland property and using a World Rally Championship-calibre power stage, the best drivers in the country will square off to be crowned champion.

“I don’t know much about Jacks Ridge but the who’s who of New Zealand rallying is going to be there so I didn’t want to miss out on that,” Van Klink said.

“I’m not a great sprinter, I’ll be honest about that, but it will be a bit of fun and it should be a pretty level playing field with no-one really knowing the stage too well.

“Our main goal will get through the City of Auckland Rally the day before and keep the car straight and the exhaust pipes intact for those fans.”

Van Klink has been the standout 2WD competitor in recent New Zealand Rally Championship seasons and should feature as the man to beat in that class at the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge.

“It will be a little weather dependent,” Van Klink said.

“We will be race-ready though seeing as we just did Rally Canterbury last weekend and we’ll have Auckland the day before so that should help.”

His head-to-head battle with good friend Regan Ross in recent seasons won’t be quite as level with Ross buying a Ford Fiesta R5 this year and entering in the 4WD class but Van Klink will no doubt be keeping a close eye on his rival.

“He’s gone to the dark side because he could keep up with us in 2WD,” he quipped.

While he is very much a Cantabrian and Christchurch-based Van Klink’s Universal Bathroom business has an Auckland branch and he is expecting a number of people to come out and support him.

“We have our business in Auckland as well and we employee 15 staff up there so this is a good opportunity to bring people out and to see us and the car in action.”

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast live on Sky Sport. VIP tickets have sold out while the general admission sales are nearly at three quarter capacity.

Fans are urged to get in now and secure tickets via Ticket Fairy before it is too late.

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Major Driver announcement: Mark Tapper

The talented Mark Tapper will compete at the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge in a couple of weeks – confirming his entry in what is shaping up a fiercely-contested crosskart category.

Tapper, who was a leading New Zealand Rally Championship contender over the past couple of decades, will race a Hayden Paddon-owned crosskart at the November 15 event on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property.

The Battle of Jacks Ridge has attracted the biggest names in the sport to battle it out over 2km-long stretch of purpose-built World Rally Championship-calibre power stage all within minutes of downtown Auckland.

“It is pretty cool to be doing something so close to the city and funnily enough was the easiest event I have ever managed to get sponsorship for,” Tapper said.

“I have managed to get Carter’s Tyres helping me out and then after that Civil have come on board as well.

“All of them because they can bring people there and see the event rather than being in a forest where you go past once and never see them again.”

Tapper actually lives just across the road from the Jacks Ridge stage but he isn’t sure that will be of any advantage to him.

“I can see it off my deck,” he said. 

“It is all new territory for everyone. It might be just over the road but the boys that are doing the City of Auckland Rally will have had the chance to drive it twice in recce and twice in anger prior to us seeing it on the Sunday.

“They are going to have a bit of a head start there I suppose.”

Tapper will start out as arguably the driver to beat in the crosskarts given his rallying success and the impressive outing he had earlier in the year at the Golden 1200 event at Ben Nevis, in the same machinery.

But he will get stiff opposition from three-time national champion Joe McAndrew as well as speedway star Michael Pickens and others.

“Obviously that will be the aim but there is a fair amount of competition – ex national champions like Joe McAndrew driving one and dark horses like Mr Pickens and then a couple of others – Justin Glavish driving one as well.

“If you have watched any of his in-car you will know he will be fast – he’s fast in anything he drives.

“It isn’t going to be an easy feat but the aim is to win that and see how far up the leader board overall we can get.”

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge is going to be broadcast live on Sky Sport and tickets are selling out fast. Get yours by visiting Ticket Fairy.

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

Major Driver Announcement: Joe McAndrew

Kiwi rally legend of the 1990s Joe McAndrew is the latest driver to enter the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge and he will look to take on the best of the current crop of stars.

McAndrew won the national championship in 1993, 1994 and 1996 and is considered one of the all-time greats of the sport.

He will make a comeback at the November 15 event on the purpose-built WRC-calibre power stage on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Auckland property.

While McAndrew has competed successfully all over New Zealand and has seen just about all there is to see in the sport, this will be one piece of road he has never driven.

“I live in Wellington, so I know nothing about it at all,” McAndrew admitted.

“I have seen a bit of footage since I was told I should enter. It looks pretty good – Andrew does a good a job and will make sure it works perfectly.

“It should be fun.”

McAndrew will pilot a cross kart at the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge and will take on the likes of speedway king Michael Pickens.

While he’s never driven a cross kart before, McAndrew feels like he will be able to adapt pretty quickly.

“I have driven a few single seaters so I guess they are similar,” he said.

“I saw the one Hayden [WRC star Hayden Paddon] had up here in Wellington earlier in the year and I got to sit in it.

“With any luck I might be able to get a ride in one before the actual event.”

And while it has been a number of years since McAndrew tested himself at the highest level, the man who raced the iconic Shell sponsored Subaru will no doubt take some beating.

“I have done nothing for a couple of years so this is a good chance to compete and be involved in something that is attracting some pretty impressive entries,” McAndrew said.

“I probably won’t be out there going for the win like I might have been earlier in my career but I will still be going as hard as I can.

“When you put the helmet on and you’re sitting at the start line I’m sure I will be ready to give it everything I have.”

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast live on Sky Sport. There are not gate sales so tickets need to be pre purchased at Ticket Fairy.

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

Major Driver Announcement: Sloan Cox

The talented Sloan Cox has confirmed his entry for next month’s Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge and will take on WRC-winner Hayden Paddon at the pointy end of the field.

Cox will bring his Mitsubishi EVO X dedicated hill climb weapon to the purpose-built WRC-calibre stage on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property and will immediately be one of the favourites to win the elimination-style event.

“I’m really excited about it – I wanted to commit earlier but we just had to put our plans together first,” Cox said.

“I haven’t been in the car competitively since Ben Nevis [the Golden 1200 event in March]. That was a new event and we had to learn the road.

“Like Ben Nevis – outside of the Hawkeswoods – no one really knows much about this event either.

“We are definitely going there to win it.

“We only really take that car out now when we think we can win or if we can break records.”

Cox’s battle with Hyundai star Paddon will be worth the price of admission alone. The pair battled at Paddon’s Golden 1200 event with the ex-WRC star coming out on top.

But Cox believes he has the ability and weaponry to take it to Paddon at the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge given that neither driver has driven the stage before.

“Our final run at Ben Nevis was my quickest, even in the rain,” Cox said. “Each run we were getting closer and closer to Hayden. 

“We know we are on par with his speed and so we will be going to Jacks Ridge with the aim of beating him.”

Cox joins a star-studded field for the November 15 event, that includes Bathurst 1000 winner Shane van Gisbergen, Supercars legend Greg Murphy, drift kings Mad Mike Whiddett and Darren Kelly and leading speedway racer Michael Pickens.

The event is broadcast live on Sky Sport. Tickets are selling fast and must be pre-purchased via Ticket Fairy with no gate sales on the day.

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

Vantage to partner with Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge

Long-time supporters of New Zealand rallying Vantage Windows and Doors have partnered up with the Battle of Jacks Ridge in November.

The New Zealand company has been supplying windows and doors to Kiwis for 45 years and their products are found in more New Zealand homes than any other brand.

They have come aboard as an elite partner for the November 15 event to be held on the purpose-built World Rally Championship calibre power stage on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Auckland property.

Located just 20 minutes from the Auckland CBD and featuring stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf, the Jacks Ridge stage is designed by rally experts with a view to testing the very best while providing optimum spectator viewing.

“We have a rich history with motorsport through our Vantage brand,” Vantage Sponsorship & Events Coordinator Sarah Young said. “Vantage Motorsport are proud supporters of rally drivers Ben Hunt and Emma Gilmour along with our Vantage Subaru WRC which is primarily driven by Alister McRae. 

“Given the disappointment of the WRC not being able to take place this year, it is very exciting to have the Battle of Jacks Ridge event taking place on this new, purpose-built road. 

“There is an exciting field of drivers set to take on the challenge and we are looking forward to following all the action.”

The Battle of Jacks Ridge has attracted a star-studded field of entries so far and will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.

Tickets can be purchased via Ticket Fairy.

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

Mad Mike to feature at Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge

Drift King Mad Mike Whiddett will bring his RUMBUL super truck to the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge next month.

The 2018 Formula Drift Japan Championship winner is one of New Zealand’s most successful and recognisable motorsport personalities and will be a major feature at the November 15 event at the purpose-built WRC-calibre power stage on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Auckland property.

“I’ve known Andrew Hawkeswood for a long time,” Whiddet explained. “I was up at his property about five years ago with my son Lincoln ripping around in his trophy cart in the bare paddocks. 

“I bumped into PJ [Rally New Zealand 2020 chairman Peter Johnston] out at Hampton Downs at the cafe and he mentioned that even though WRC isn’t happening this year they were still going to push on with this mega event out at Hawkeswoods.

“I met up with Hawkeswood and looked at the property and I was blown away with what they were constructing with excavators, bulldozers, dump trucks etc and I was super pumped to see it.

“Also having an off-roader that has been sitting in the shed all year, I was like yup, I am going to bring this out.”

Whiddett will run his 13B twin rotor engine Mazda B2000 Stadium Truck on a separate course to that of the rally cars across the day to ensure he doesn’t cut up the stage too much.

“Andrew is going to custom make a course for myself so I can run demos all day,” Whiddett said. “I don’t have to wait for the whole field to pass, I can run whenever I feel like it, which is really cool.

“I will be doing demos throughout the day and then mingling with fans.

“With everything that has happened this year it has been a super challenging year. We had 31 international events on the calendar this year and we have done one.

“I am super looking forward to getting back behind the wheel.”

The Red Bull star thinks the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge will be one of the biggest events in New Zealand motorsport history.

“I am just excited about being a spectator – watching Paddon and Murph and SVG is coming over and having a thrash – so there are some real heavy hitters coming to the event,” he said. “The course they have created represents New Zealand so well and I hope that in the next year or two the WRC can come back to New Zealand and put on a special stage like this.

“That is one thing drifting does really well – we create this atmosphere where the crowd can see all the action. Rallying is one of those things where you stand on a corner and see a car come flying past, but it is past and gone within seconds.

“What they have created out at Jacks Ridge will give that atmosphere similar to the drifting where fans can see 95 percent of the course.”

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge will screen live on Sky Sport – tickets can be purchased via Ticket Fairy.

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

Major Driver Announcement: Dylan Thomson

Dylan Thomson was one of the first Kiwi rally drivers to see Jacks Ridge – long before it got turned into the WRC-calibre power stage that will host the best drivers in the country at November’s Battle of Jacks Ridge.a

The Christchurch-based driver, who has today confirmed his entry into the event, was given a tour of the farm by former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood, who had a vision some years ago to turn his Whitford, property into a world class rally stage.

Over the past year or so Hawkeswood has constructed a purpose-built rally stage, designed by a rally driver for rally drivers.

It will be a spectator’s paradise and has earned rave reviews from those that have had a blast around the 6km stage – of which a bit over 2km section will be used for the Battle of Jacks Ridge on November 15.

“I have been out there before it was what it is now – a few years ago when Andrew took Ben [Hunt] and I around there for a look and he explained all of his plans,” Thomson said.

“Talking to Andrew and Jack now, that is a lot different to what it was meant to be.

“I have seen all the footage – the thing I am most worried about is that big-ass jump.”

Thomson made the step up to open 4WD in the 2019 national championship having dominated the FIA Group N 2WD category for the previous couple of seasons.

He will run a brand-new car at the Battle of Jacks Ridge however and will share it with a man that has more recently acted as a co-driver in the national championship but has a significant pedigree behind the wheel himself.

“I will be a Ford Fiesta Proto that is built by Ralliart,” Thomson explained. 

“I am going to be sharing the car with Andrew Graves so will probably have my ass handed to me by a co-driver,” he laughed.

“We are very open-minded about the whole event. The first run I do will probably be the first time I’ve driven the car.

“I don’t really have any expectations in mind – just being involved in something that is going to be awesome for New Zealand. There has not been anything as big as this since 2012 in New Zealand rallying.”

The Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast live on Sky Sport. Tickets are selling fast and can be purchased via Ticket Fairy.

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Esport

Announcing the Rally New Zealand Esport Series, Auckland, Presented by MSNZ

LetsPlay.Live have teamed up with Rally New Zealand, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and MotorSport New Zealand to host the official Rally New Zealand Esport Series, Auckland, Presented by MSNZ, featuring the recently released WRC 9 motor-sim game and the beautiful Rally New Zealand rally stages.

Motor-sim PC racers will be able to compete in a series of online and offline qualifiers for the chance to win some amazing prizes: including flights and accommodation to a LAN Final in Auckland to compete against Rally New Zealand celebrities on November 8th. Entry is free and open to New Zealand residents.

Rally legend Hayden Paddon is the first traditional racer announced as taking part in the celebrity finals event – a joint initiative between Rally New Zealand, MotorSport New Zealand and ATEED to bridge the gap between traditional and digital motor racing.

Qualifiers
Participants wishing to compete in the online qualifiers will have seven days – beginning Monday 12th October – to compete in the WRC 9 Club Event. Competitors will need to submit their fastest time on the map Te Akau South via the LetsPlay.Live website.

Participants at Armageddon Expo Auckland 2020 will be able to compete in the offline qualifiers on October 23rd and October 24th at the Rally New Zealand booth. Participants will race the Te Akau South track on racing game WRC 9. 

Semi Finals
The Top Fourteen – the top six ranked racers from the online qualifiers and the the top eight ranked racers from the offline qualifiers – will proceed to the Semi Finals, where they will compete online and offline from 1-3pm on October 25th live at Armageddon Expo Auckland. 



Two randomly seeded pools of seven racers will battle it out for their spot in the November 8th Grand Final LAN. In each pool three online competitors will compete remotely from the comfort of their own home and will be matched up with four offline finalists who will be competing live from the Rally NZ booth. 

The first pool will compete at 1pm followed by the second pool at 2pm.  The Top Two racers from each pool will make it into the Grand Finals.

The Semi Finals will be broadcast live to Twitch.tv/letsplaylive and Sky Sport, followed by a Rally NZ Celebrity Race at 3pm. 

Grand Finals
The three fastest celebrity racers and four fastest Semi Finalists will proceed to our Grand Final LAN – fighting to be named the first Rally New Zealand Esport Series Champion! The Grand Final will take place on Sunday November 8th broadcast live to Sky Spot and Twitch from the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Flights and accommodation will be provided to all finalists (pending travel restrictions) if needed.

For more information head to our event page here: https://letsplay.live/event/118/

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

City of Auckland Rally route confirmed!

New Zealand’s leading rally drivers have been quick to commit to the City of Auckland Rally after entries opened last month.

The November 14 event will see competitors tackle the Auckland-based special stages that were set to be used when the World Rally Championship visited New Zealand in September prior to COVID-19 shutting the world down and forcing the event’s cancellation.

Organisers have utilised some iconic stages that were used in Rally New Zealand years ago that will see competitors compete in Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and Riverhead Forest before finishing at the purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage in Whitford.

The rally starts at Kumeu Showgrounds at 7.50am before cars head north to the 16km Kaipara Hills stage. They then tackle the 23km Puhoi test before a 16km stage through Riverhead Forest in Auckland’s north-west.

After a late morning service back in Kumeu drivers will head out to repeat the early three-stage loop before a second service mid-afternoon.

After a drive south of the city the competitors will then have two runs through the 6km purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage on former NZRC champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s farm.

In all there will be 121km of competition.

“We are thrilled to be able to use some of the most iconic roads in Rally New Zealand’s history for the City of Auckland Rally,” Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston said.

“Many of these stages haven’t been used for a long time but they are steeped in rallying history. Competitors today will get the chance to drive on stages that were used in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Johnston said the organisers worked hard to bring a world class event to Auckland even without the WRC.


“We are gutted that COVID-19 forced the cancellation of Rally New Zealand this year but we are fighting hard to bring the event back in the future and the City of Auckland Rally gives us a chance to showcase what an amazing event we could run down here.

“The Jacks Ridge stage is a world class WRC power stage and would have been a real highlight on the WRC calendar this year had we been able to run.

“It is going to be a fantastic experience for our best drivers here in New Zealand.”

Already signed up to compete is former WRC star Hayden Paddon, reigning New Zealand rally champion Ben Hunt, talented youngster Jack Hawkeswood and Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen.

A spectator map with information on spectator spots will be available soon.

Tickets to the Battle of Jacks Ridge on November 15 can be purchased via Ticket Fairy.

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Battle of Jacks Ridge

Major Driver Announcement – Greg Murphy

Four-time Bathurst winner and Supercars commentator Greg Murphy has confirmed his entry into November’s Battle of Jacks Ridge as a driver.

The host of Sky Speed on Sky Sport has been an ambassador of the event since it was launched but has today confirmed he will also take part as a driver in his Holden Barina AP4 car.

Murphy had a distinguished career as a Supercars star and is an icon of the famous Bathurst 1000. But in the latter part of his career the Havelock North product made the switch to rallying, competing in the national championship in 2017 and 2018.

“Based on the fact I spent so much time on circuits, to go and do a different discipline like rallying was an incredible thrill and an amazing challenge and learning experience,” Murphy said.

“To completely change the way you approach driving a car is an amazing buzz and I just loved every minute of the rallying that I have done.

“Having a car sitting there, that I haven’t been able to sell, and having this event coming along and how cool it is going to be it was kind of a no-brainer that I needed to be involved in a competitive sense as well as the TV side of it as well.

“I can’t wait to get out and have a go – the road is just amazing. I am in awe of what the Hawkeswood team have managed to do.

“I think our country is incredibly fortunate to have it and have a huge amount of fun and give the fans something to really enjoy.”

Murphy made some real progress during the 2018 national championship season as he continued to work on the car and his driving. He put together some drives that turned heads and showed that he could match it with the best drivers in the country.

While his return at the Battle of Jacks Ridge is largely about having fun and being part of a great event, the competitive streak in the circuit racer is likely to take hold once he gets behind the when of the car.

“I probably am full of bullshit really when I say that because I did a rally sprint in the Hawke’s Bay over the week to give the Barina a run and straight away I got in the car and it all starts to come together and you start to push harder and get a vibe for driving the car and get more and more excited about it,” he explained.

“I ended up having an amazing day and pushing myself harder and harder. I had a hell of a dice with Jack Hawkeswood until the last run of the day.

“I will turn up to Jacks Ridge and tell everyone I am there for fun but once it gets going it is hard to control your natural urge.”

The Battle of Jacks Ridge will take place November 15 on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property, just 20 minutes from the Auckland CBD. 

On a purpose-built WRC-calibre power stage, the best drivers in New Zealand will be tested with a challenging layout while providing spectators with incredible up-close viewing.

The event will be broadcast live on Sky Sport, with Murphy fronting as part of the coverage.

Tickets can be purchased via [enter link here].

The Battle of Jacks Ridge has attracted a who’s who of New Zealand Motorsport and will be broadcast live on Sky Sport on November 15.

Tickets can be purchased via Ticket Fairy.