The inaugural Battle of Jack’s Ridge rally sprint event will be broadcast live on Sky Sport as Rally New Zealand promotors continue to entice the interest of the World Rally Championship for a hopeful return next year.
The Jack’s Ridge stage was set to feature on the WRC calendar with the long-awaited return of the top-tier rally championship to New Zealand after a seven-year hiatus.
However, the event was canned amid a calendar reshuffle as the championship got to grips with the effects of the global pandemic. Thus, the stage became the centre of attention with a recently announced domestic rally event featuring the Auckland WRC stages.
The 2km purpose-built gravel stage features high speed jumps, technical corners and close proximity to spectators on former New Zealand champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property.
The event is set to be open for spectators but Sky Sport will also be broadcasting four hours of live coverage, including the final runs in the unique event.
Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston is hailing the partnership with Sky Sport as the future of the sport in New Zealand.
“For Sky to broadcast the event this way is a massive coup for the sport,” he said. “From the moment we first spoke to them, Sky has been very supportive and has recognised what we can achieve together.
“The coverage will be world class and will give viewers the closest possible experience to be being there in person.”
The event will also provide valuable televised coverage of the stage for WRC organisers as they continue to deliberate whether New Zealand will feature on the 2021 calendar.
A provisional schedule has seen the event be replaced by an event in Australia which has led to some backlash by promotors who believe it will be callous to oversea New Zealand for a future event after the vast quantities of money invested in ensuring a return of the series was possible.
Kiwi rally icon Hayden Paddon will be competing at the event slated for November 15 and is excited to get back behind the wheel against some of the country’s top rally stars.
“Like everyone I was disappointed that Rally New Zealand was not possible this year but I cannot wait to compete on that world class stage and in front of Kiwi rally fans,” Paddon said.
“Jacks Ridge is a phenomenal rally stage and will make for one heck of an event.
“I’ll be there and I can’t wait to test myself against the best cars and drivers in New Zealand.”
Main Image: Geoff Rider