rallynz wrc

FIA World Rally Championship’s new hybrid era hits top gear

Star drivers and pioneering new hybrid cars delivered a high-voltage introduction to the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship in Austria on Saturday evening.

The WRC’s ground-breaking new-generation of Rally1 cars from the three manufacturers gathered for the first time in Salzburg’s landmark Hangar-7 as the 2022 season was launched five days before the opening round at Rallye Monte-Carlo (20 – 23 January).

In the presence of FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, reigning champions Toyota Gazoo Racing, Hyundai Motorsport and M-Sport Ford revealed their stunning all-new cars which will compete across 13 rounds on four continents.

Among those attending were Toyota’s 2021 championship runner-up Elfyn Evans and team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who became the youngest WRC rally winner in history last season.
Also present were Hyundai lead drivers Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak. New M-Sport Ford signing Craig Breen appeared alongside the team’s hotly-tipped youngster, Adrien Fourmaux.

In the championship’s 50th season, the WRC will undergo major environmental changes as new FIA technical regulations drive the series towards a more sustainable future.

Plug-in hybrid-powered cars built around an upgraded safety cell chassis, 100 per cent fossil-free fuel and sustainable energy supplies are key to the sport’s commitment to a greener future.

The new hybrid challengers blend a 100kW electric motor with a competition-proven 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which has powered the sport’s top-tier cars since 2011.

The package raises peak performance levels to more than 500hp whilst also reducing harmful emissions.

President Ben Sulayem, a former WRC competitor himself, said: “Today’s launch of the new Rally1 era is a very proud and significant moment for the FIA and entire rally family and I would like to congratulate WRC Promoter for delivering a great show at the start of the championship’s 50th anniversary season.

“The enthusiasm for the FIA’s new technical regulations has been very much in evidence in recent months and the event further underlined the momentum coming from the teams and manufacturers, with Rallye Monte-Carlo just a few days away.

“Beside the hybrid technology adding a new dynamic layer of performance combined with safety improvements, Rally1 cars will be using 100 per cent sustainable fuel and work is also ongoing to achieve greater sustainability in the organisation of each round of the series. I look forward to an exciting season!”

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel welcomed the start of a ‘landmark period’ for the championship.

“Tonight we’ve seen what the future of the WRC looks like,” he added. “I applaud the manufacturers’ hard work and commitment in readying these amazing and innovative Rally1 cars for the WRC’s new era.

“This evening was a marvellous opportunity to showcase the WRC and exhibit the strong desire to create an environment where both fiercely competitive motorsport and the planet can thrive together.”

rallynz wrc

Rally New Zealand returns to Auckland in 2022

Rally New Zealand is set to make its 32nd appearance on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar.

A decade since it was last staged and two years after the pandemic prevented an historic return of Rally New Zealand, today Auckland has been confirmed to host a round of the 2022 World Rally Championship*.

In a major morale-boost to a city currently in Alert Level 3 lockdown, the WRC Promoter has today confirmed Auckland will host the 11th round of the 2022 world championship from September 29 to October 2 next year.

With the country currently working towards opening up its borders, the return of the WRC will be a massive coup for rally fans across the country.

“We are absolutely delighted to share this terrific news with rally fans and the wider community,” Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston said.

“We have worked so hard and waited so long for this moment. We got agonisingly close to having the WRC return last year before COVID interrupted and so this feels so rewarding knowing we will get to run one of the country’s most iconic sporting events once again.

“We are so grateful the WRC Promoter has decided to bring the championship back to New Zealand and can’t wait to get working on the finer details in the coming months.”

Johnston hailed the support from Auckland Unlimited as being key to getting the WRC back.

“Auckland Unlimited have been tremendous supporters of our plans for the past few years. It is going to be fantastic making Auckland the centre of the rallying and motorsport world in September and October next year.

“I also want to acknowledge the support MotorSport New Zealand has given us throughout this process. It has been a team effort securing this opportunity.”

* Subject to contract

Throughout the pandemic, increasing numbers of fans from around the world have tuned in to follow the World Championship action – the WRC now has a huge annual audience of more than 800 million viewers and billions of online impressions.

WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said the championship is looking forward to making its way back to New Zealand.

“Next year marks the WRC’s 50th season and I’m delighted to welcome back New Zealand, a rally which first appeared on the calendar in 1977,” Siebel said.

“The gravel roads there are a drivers’ delight and, although our plans to return in 2020 were unfortunately derailed by COVID-19, it’s fantastic we can now push through with those.”

Richard Clarke, Head of Major and Business Events at Auckland Unlimited, said the prospect of another world-class event coming to Auckland is exciting.

“Motorsport has a celebrated history in New Zealand and no doubt fans from around the country will welcome this news.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with WRC and our final agreement will deliver a diverse range of benefits for Auckland – from building on the unique sustainability story developed at the Jacks Ridge venue, to continuing our positive relationship with the local community and iwi, and providing another exciting event opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy Tāmaki Makaurau,” Clarke said.

New Zealand’s premier driver Hayden Paddon, the only driver from the southern hemisphere to ever win a WRC event, was ecstatic upon hearing the news and has been made the event’s official ambassador.

“It is so satisfying knowing New Zealand will get to host a round of the WRC again, especially after the disappointment of missing out last year,” Paddon said.

“It has long been a dream of mine to compete against the world’s best here in my own backyard.

“It is a great day for Kiwi rally fans, and I am so thrilled to have a role to play.”

Work will begin immediately on planning the specific details of the event.

“Now we have confirmation from the FIA, Rally New Zealand is looking for a naming partner to join us on the ride,” Johnston added.

“We welcome interested companies to reach out to us.”

Tickets will be on sale in the coming months and fans are encouraged to sign up to Gravel Fan Club via for all event updates.

* Subject to contract


Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge Cancelled

Organisers of the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge have made the difficult decision to cancel the second edition of the popular event due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

It had originally been set to run in November, but the prolonged Auckland lockdown forced a postponement to 5-6 February 2022, which Rally New Zealand thought would attract the 10,000 fans to the iconic venue.

However, with Auckland moving into the government’s COVID Protection Framework red level and with no guaranteed date of when we would see a move to orange, the level required to run a large-scale event, the commercial risk became too great to continue with preparing for the event.

“We considered holding off until the next government announcement on December 13 to see if there was a confirmed date that Auckland would move into orange,” event manager Paul Fallon said. “However, with the information provided and the likelihood of Auckland remaining in red for the next few weeks, we felt it was important to give the many competitors and fans who had purchased tickets a decision, as they have travel and accommodation arrangements that need to be cancelled or changed, and many would appreciate refunds prior to Christmas.”

Although this decision is disappointing for the fans, all tickets will be automatically refunded by the ticket fairy team in the coming 7 days. The news gets better however, all those who had purchased tickets will automatically be invited to preferential pre-sale tickets in the New Year for the Jacks Ridge Power Stage in October’s WRC Rally New Zealand event.

The Rally New Zealand team won’t be putting their feet up for summer as they will now turn their attention onto the massive task ahead of pulling together the 32nd visit of the World Rally Championship to New Zealand.

Battle of Jacks Ridge

Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge postponed to 5-6 Feb

The ongoing uncertainty around COVID Alert Levels and regional travel in and out of Auckland has forced organisers to reschedule the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge to Waitangi weekend on 5-6 February 2022.

Yesterday’s government announcement provides no clear indication that a drop to Alert Level 1 will be possible by the original date of mid-November.  Couple that with the ongoing restrictions on regional travel in and out of Auckland and organisers felt there just wasn’t enough confidence to successfully push on with the original dates.

Competitors and fans need to confirm travel plans and so the organisers have decided to push the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge back to Waitangi weekend early next year, which has always been the back-up date.

That move should provide more certainty for everyone and ensures that it will be completely safe coming to watch at the purpose-built WRC power stage.

“It is obviously frustrating, but we had always planned for a COVID disruption and had pencilled 5-6 February 2022 in as the back-up date some time ago,” event manager Paul Fallon said.

“While it is disappointing not to be able to run as planned, we feel this option will work just as well and will give competitors, sponsors and fans a better level of certainty.

“An early February date gives the region time to get this outbreak under control, continue to raise vaccination rates and it is when the region has its most stable weather.

“We have poured a huge amount of work and planning into this event and made improvements to the track and to the facilities. We look forward to being able to put on a bigger show than last year but at a date we can all be completely confident with.”

All event partners have agreed to the date change and the revised dates could potentially open up the possibility of some international driver interest.

Fallon said the new dates work for Sky Sport, who will broadcast the event live, while he wants to acknowledge WRC star Hayden Paddon, who has agreed to move his Golden 1200 hill climb event near Cromwell from Waitangi weekend to a new, yet-to-be-confirmed date to accommodate the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge date change.

Tickets will remain on sale and will no doubt be a popular option for Christmas presents. Already purchased tickets automatically roll over to the new dates and ticket holders need not do anything.

Battle of Jacks Ridge

The Pinnacle of NZ Motorsport – The Repco Battle of Jack’s Ridge RETURNS!!

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge returns in November for a second edition with inaugural champion Shane van Gisbergen set to defend his crown against WRC winner Hayden Paddon and a star-studded line-up.

Supercars ace Van Gisbergen produced a superb drive to come out on top of a knock-out-style showdown against the best rally drivers in the country last year as the purpose-built 2km-long piece of road proved a hit with drivers and fans alike.

Van Gisbergen, who is dominating the 2021 Supercars Championship at present, has confirmed he will return to defend his title.

“It was an awesome experience last year and I had a blast,” he said. “I am super keen to come back and have another go.

“The field will be competitive, and I will have my work cut out again in 2021, but I am really looking forward to it.”

A sold-out crowd saw Paddon set the early pace last year before an uncharacteristic mistake saw him exit earlier than expected.

But the Hyundai driver has confirmed he will be back to tackle Van Gisbergen and others.

“The Repco Battle of Jack’s Ridge was a big success last year and organisers did a great job,” Paddon said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get it quite right, so I am determined to come back and have another go.

“Shane was awesome to watch, and it will be great to compete against him again and I know there is a huge interest from some really good drivers so I expect a tough challenge.

“The layout was great, the fans were awesome and I can’t wait to get out there and put on a show for everyone.”

The weekend of November 13-14 has been locked in with specific times to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

A sell-out crowd were treated to a terrific spectacle last year on former national rally champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property, just 20 minutes from central Auckland.

Richard Clarke, Head of Major and Business event for Auckland Unlimited, said the event is another example of Kiwi ingenuity born from the challenges of 2020, and that Auckland Unlimited is thrilled to support the Battle of Jacks Ridge. 

“We see a bright future for this event to attract even more internationals to this purpose-built rally venue along with motorsport-hungry fans to Auckland for some of the best viewing on offer. It’s part of a big fortnight of motorsport in the region, so we hope fans are ready,” Clarke said.  

“Jacks Ridge, as a venue, is a lot more than a motorsport story; the development of the venue is a remarkable sustainability story and the event’s ongoing commitment to environmental management is testament to the organiser’s innovative approach,” Clarke added. 

The event is supported by Auckland’s economic and cultural agency, Auckland Unlimited, on behalf of Auckland Council.  

Repco have returned as naming rights sponsors of the Repco Battle of Jack’s Ridge.

“Repco is once again proud to present the Repco Battle of Jack’s Ridge; the pinnacle of New Zealand Rally,” Louise Sixton, GM Sales & Operations Repco NZ said.

“This phenomenal event showcases some of New Zealand’’s best drivers on a unique track, including some of the best spectator access, to get you up close and personal with the action. It promises to be even bigger and better than last year.

“We are delighted to partner with the event again and help put on the best rally sprint event in the country.”

Sky Sport have confirmed they will once again offer live coverage. 

“Motorsport is hugely popular with Sky viewers and they love nothing more than seeing our homegrown heroes perform here in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Jonny Errrington, Chief Commercial Officer said. 

“We’re excited to have year two of the Battle of Jack’s Ridge after such a successful debut, and to see SVG and Hayden in action alongside other up and coming drivers.”

More details around the 2021 Repco Battle of Jack’s Ridge will be confirmed in the coming weeks with tickets on sale August 15th. 

Battle of Jacks Ridge

Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge a massive success

The inaugural Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge was a massive success on Sunday with a sold-out crowd and massive television audience on Sky Sport tuning in to see Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen crowned champion.

The purpose-built venue at former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford farm delivered a brilliant test for the drivers and superb viewing for spectators.

“We are delighted with how the weekend went,” Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston said.

“The venue was just superb. Andrew and his crew have done a magnificent job putting this together and we cannot thank them enough.

“It is a glimpse into the future bringing a stadium-style rally event to the people.

“I want to thank Paul Fallon and his team for running a fantastic event and all the volunteers for making the day possible.

“The drivers and fans left having enjoyed themselves and we are already thinking about next year and what we can do add to the spectacle.”

Hawkeswood had a dream to build a rally stage for world class performers and he was pleased to see that his idea had come to life so spectacularly.

“I’m thrilled with how it all went. The stage was everything I had hoped for and it was great to bring that to life,” the 2017 national champion said.

“I look forward to doing it again next year.”


Van Gisbergen stuns field to win Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge

Champion of the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge, Shane van Gisbergen. Photo credit: Geoff Ridder

Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen produced a stunning drive on Sunday to win the inaugural Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge after beating Phil Campbell in the head-to-head final.

The 2020 Bathurst winner had been fast all day, showcasing his phenomenal and adaptable talent behind the wheel of any car, and threw down a staggering time of 1.20.00 in the final.

Campbell fought valiantly but wasn’t able to match Van Gisbergen in front of a capacity 5,000-strong crowd in the stunning Whitford location.

Earlier WRC star Hayden Paddon had set the record time during the early runs before he made a small mistake towards the end of his top-eight run and clipped the bank, which fired him into a roll and out of the event.

Paddon wasn’t hurt in the incident and graciously waved to fans that had come out to see him in action.

Event host Jack Hawkeswood was third after putting on a terrific show while the talented Matt Summerfield also bowed out in the top four.

Van Gisbergen proved a popular winner and said he’d love to do more rallying if his Supercars boss allows it.

“The whole few days has been really cool,” a delighted Van Gisbergen said.

“I had a great time and learned a whole lot about rallying – a huge thanks to Dad, the Ralliart New Zealand team and my co-driver Brianna.”

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge proved a superb event. The purpose-built venue on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s property provided stunning views of Rangitoto Island and Hauraki Gulf while delivering a thorough test for drivers and cars.

The drama-filled day will no doubt have made for an entertaining spectacle for fans either at the venue or watching at home on Sky Sport.


Note: The attached photos of Shane van Gisbergen are available to use for editorial purposes. Please credit Geoff Ridder.


Paddon cleans up City of Auckland Rally

World Rally Championship event winner Hayden Paddon has cruised to a convincing win in the City of Auckland Rally on Saturday.

The Hyundai driver claimed the victory by two minutes and 40 seconds and dominated the day that took place on roads set aside to be used in the COVID-ruined WRC Rally New Zealand.

The day featured a pass through the Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and Riverhead Forest stages before a service in Kumeu and a second loop of the same stages.

Competitors then headed south to the incredible Jacks Ridge stage set across 6km of former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property. The purpose-built stage, featuring cambered gravel roads and spectacular jumps was given the thumbs-up by drivers.

Raana Horan finished second in his Skoda Fabia R5 after a sound drive while Dylan Turner (Audi) edged Emma Gilmour (Suzuki) by 0.3 second on the second pass through Jacks Ridge.

“What an amazing day,” Paddon said at the prizegiving at Jacks Ridge. “The Auckland weather turned it on, the roads were amazing, and we had a great day.

“I can’t wait to come back to Jacks Ridge tomorrow for the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge.”

Graham Featherstone was fifth in his Mitsubishi while Hadyn McKenzie impressed for sixth in another Mitsubishi in one of his first major gravel events.

Arguably the star of the show was Supercars driver and 2020 Bathurst champion Shane van Gisbergen, who was easily the first of the 2WD cars in his father Robert’s Ford Escort.

Van Gisbergen produced a stunning drive to beat far more season gravel campaigners and even edged a number of top 4WD competitors.

He will hand the Escort back to Robert for tomorrow’s Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge and will jump into a new generation Mitsubishi Mirage AP4. His performance in a modern state-of-the-art rally car will be closely monitored by rivals as well as the sell-out crowd.


Live stream of Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge confirmed for international viewers

International viewers will be able to watch live coverage of the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge via Repco Australia’s website.

While Kiwi viewers will be watching live on Sky Sport, the rest of the world will see a collection of New Zealand’s best motorsport talent tackling the 2km-long stretch of the purpose-built stage on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Auckland property.

Those outside New Zealand can visit to watch the event live. Former WRC rally winner Hayden Paddon will headline an all-star cast of drivers that includes recent Bathurst champion Shane van Gisbergen, reigning NZRC champion Ben Hunt, former Supercars star Greg Murphy, drift king Darren Kelly and speedway ace Michael Pickens.

Repco is proudly supporting the Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge. This event is set to be an event every motorsport fan is going to love, and with this field of drivers the Battle is on!

Coverage begins at 1pm NZT on Sunday, with former Supercars commentator Greg Rust leading the coverage. The final showdown is set to get underway at 4.30pm.

City of Auckland Rally

Star field tackles City of Auckland Rally

A star-studded field including World Rally Championship rally winner Hayden Paddon will tackle the City of Auckland Rally on Saturday.

The event will use the roads set aside to host the WRC in 2020 before the COVID pandemic forced its cancellation.

Paddon, in his Hyundai i20 AP4, will battle a strong local field that includes reigning NZRC champion Ben Hunt (Subaru), Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi), Emma Gilmour (Suzuki), Raana Horan (Skoda) and Dylan Turner (Audi).

Young up-and-coming stars Jack Hawkeswood (Mazda) and Robbie Stokes (Ford) should also be in the mix.

The field will tackle the picturesque 16km-long Kaipara Hills stage at 8.38am will start the day off before 22km Puhoi stage.

Competitors return to the famous Riverhead forest north-west of Auckland – last used in the mid-1990s – before a service at Kumeu Showgrounds at 11.04am.

The cars will head back out for a second loop of those three stages before heading south of the city to Whitford for the purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage.

Drivers will tackle the 6.27km cambered gravel road, with massive jumps, in the cauldron-style atmosphere.

The first run through begins at 4.31pm while a second pass will start at 5.21pm.

Limited spectating is available to the first 500 on a first come, first in basis.

The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge – using 2km of the stage – will take place on Sunday.