Organisers of one of New Zealand’s longest-standing events, the Waimate 50, have confirmed that it will be shifting venues — but not shifting cities — for 2021.
Held over Labour Weekend on October 22–24, the event is set to swap its traditional street circuit confines for a ‘Gravel Edition’ hillclimb event, with organisers citing Covid-19 strategies as a motivator for the change.
“We are stoked and excited by this challenge, which will give our gravel event a high-profile boost,” said Waimate 50 organiser Rob Aikman.
“Although this is a big move away from our proven street formula we are upbeat and pumped that our two newly developed hillclimbs with enhanced spectator viewing and supporting facilities will create an atmosphere not seen here before.”
Two circuits will be used; the 1.5km-long Model Garage Point Bush Hillclimb and the 4.0km Mount Shop Horsepower Hill.
The former is a Tarmac-based hill climb, which will be utilised on the Friday of the event. It snakes its way from the edge of Waimate’s township and along Point Bush Road, in what organisers call a ‘fast and flowing’ hillclimb.
The latter, meanwhile, represents the main event. It’s exclusively gravel based, packing 250 metres of elevation change, and plenty of tight corners en route to its flying finish at the White Horse Monument where spectators can see panoramic views of the Canterbury Plains.
Four-time New Zealand Rally Championship winner Hayden Paddon — a Waimate 50 regular — has already been confirmed for the event. More names will be confirmed in the event’s build-up, with organisers confirming an entry list of 50 drivers.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at Horsepower Hill. After doing some demo runs there a couple of years ago, it’s a magic piece of road with a bit of everything. It’s an iconic road and an iconic event, something myself and the team are proud to be part of,” said Paddon.
Friday’s Point Bush event will be free to the public, and is scheduled to take place from 1.00pm to 7.00pm on October 22. The Saturday and Sunday October 23–24 Horsepower Hill showdown will include two spectator areas, live commentary. Tickets go on sale on August 22.