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Rally New Zealand keen to secure regular stop on World Rally calendar

On the eve of the Repco Rally New Zealand’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship, organisers are keen to press claims for the event to have a regular place on the calendar in Auckland.

Rally chairman Peter Johnston confirmed today that Rally New Zealand will not be included on the 2023 world calendar although active discussions are underway with WRC Promoter and stakeholders regarding the world championship event returning to Auckland in 2024.

Johnston said that this week’s Repco Rally New Zealand will deliver a significant return on investment for local and central Governments and sponsors.

“The event will bring much need support to the accommodation sector. We believe visitation will be around 34,000 bed nights and potential economic benefit of many millions for Auckland,” said Johnston.

“The WRC television broadcast will be seen by more than 70 million viewers globally, including pictures of our beautiful landscapes and some great feature pieces with the drivers who have been seeing the best of Auckland this week.”

Johnston said his organisation are focused on Rally New Zealand taking a biennial place on the WRC calendar.

“We believe that the future is strong for this event in New Zealand. WRC has deep roots in New Zealand and the fan interest this week shows how special this event is for our country.

“This week is the first FIA World Championship motorsport event to be held in New Zealand featuring hybrid electric vehicles and fully sustainable fuel which represents a new age of motorsport.”

Johnston said that the global calendar for World Rally Championship is extremely competitive and that Rally New Zealand has looked to host the event for several years. He said that his organisation believes that this would not be practicable annually, but every two to three years.

“We are confident that after a successful event this week that our team will be in a strong position to be included on the 2024 WRC calendar.”

WRC Promoter Managing Director Jona Siebel said his organisation is delighted to return to New Zealand.

“The whole WRC community has been very much looking forward to our return to New Zealand, given the event was first included on the 2020 season calendar,” said Siebel.

“Here we are two years later and the excitement remains. With the amount of work that PJ and his team have done, along with the great support of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and the other sponsors and partners, we want to find a way to make sure this effort can be capitalised on with a strategy for a future return.

“This will require a clear commitment from central government as well as Auckland Unlimited, and we’re very much in the mix with these negotiations now.
“Rally New Zealand has a great heritage in the WRC, and as we’ve seen with the recent return of Safari Rally Kenya and Acropolis Rally Greece, it is a key ambition of WRC Promoter to maintain such events where possible.”

Chris Simpson, Head of Major Events at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited says: “The World Rally Championship is one of the pinnacle events on the global motorsport calendar and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is proud to host the New Zealand leg of the event this year.

“We acknowledge that there is great demand for hosting events of this nature, which is reflective of how competitive the global events market is right now.

“It is fantastic to see the way WRC has embraced the need for motorsport to evolve to meet the challenges of being more environmentally responsible, which fits well with Auckland and New Zealand’s priority on responding to climate change and the need to reduce emissions globally.

“The Rally of New Zealand leg of the WRC is ground-breaking in terms of environmental developments, with the new generation of hybrid technology and sustainable fuels.

“We are hopeful that discussions involving the WRC, the Government and Tātaki Auckland Unlimited will continue in a positive way, and the event will return again in the years to come.”

Repco Rally New Zealand gets underway with the with the Opening Ceremony and Super Special Stage in Auckland Domain on Thursday from 5.30pm.

All cars and equipment have arrived in Auckland, and the service park in Silo Park and Wynyard Quarter opens to the public on Thursday. Before then teams are undertaking reconnaissance on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, with shakedown on Thursday ahead of the official opening and Super Special Stage in Auckland Domain from 5.30pm which is free to the public.

Day one proper of the rally is in Raglan and Te Akau regions, with day two in the Nor-West and Hibiscus Coast region ahead of the final day with a double stage at the unique Jack’s Ridge stage in Whitford.

On the back of significant ticket sales, organisers advise fans to purchase general admission tickets for the Jack’s Ridge stages, with park and ride with admission at $59.

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