Rally New Zealand remain in active talks with the World Rally Championship concerning a potential spot on the 2022 series calendar.
However, everything hinges on the state of New Zealand’s borders and the Covid-19 situation, which has been a fluctuating affair so far this year.
There are four vacant slots to fill on the 2022 WRC season.
FIA rally director Yves Matton told Autosport that New Zealand is in the mix of locations vying for a round.
“I believe it is bit early to give you an answer not only on New Zealand but this region. It is quite closed there,” Matton said.
“It is a wish to go to New Zealand as it is part of the DNA of championship and I hope it can be back in 2022, but the most important thing is to go there once again as early as possible.”
Velocity News reached out to Rally NZ chairman Peter Johnston to learn where they stand in trying to bring WRC to our shores next year.
Johnston says he and his team are working hard behind the scenes and are in ongoing discussion with the series.
But with how the world is currently, everything remains up in the air.
“We are actively talking with the WRC but there is nothing to confirm yet,” Johnston said.
“There is the Covid hurdle, and then there is funding. It is a big event to run…it is a $5 million event.
“But it is all crystal ball stuff.
“How the borders will look this time next year is unknown. It is a waiting game at the moment.”
When the WRC announced it was returning to New Zealand in 2020, the first time it was back since 2012, event organisers began creating a unique special stage.
The stage would be a highlight feature of the rally.
New Zealand rally champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford property was the chosen location to construct a purpose-built gravel special stage.
However, when Covid-19 scuppered plans of WRC’s return and the rally was cancelled, Rally NZ seized the initiative to launch ‘The Battle of Jack’s Ridge’.
A one-day knockout-style rally sprint with a plethora of Kiwi stars made for a spectacular occasion.
The event was so popular it left fans yearning for more.
“We were very lucky to have it and it was a great success,” Johnston said.
“Combining all the classes, so having cross cars and side-by-sides with the rally cars was great too.”
The Battle of Jack’s Ridge returns for its second event later this year.
Rally NZ has been full steam ahead with preparation for the occasion, and Johnston believes this year will be even bigger and better than 2020.
“It is going to be more dynamic and bigger this year.
“We now have a two-day event, with practice on Saturday and the finals and top-32 shootout on Sunday.
“We are going to be live on TV in both Australia and New Zealand this time too.
“It is looking like we are going to be oversubscribed with entries. We are only limited to 100.”
Given the popularity of the Jack’s Ridge rally sprint, Kiwi fans will hope to turn it into an annual spot on their calendar.
However, Johnston emphasised that the WRC comes ahead of Jack’s Ridge.
Should the WRC come to New Zealand, the series will use the location as a special stage, as was its initial intentions in 2020.
There will be no Battle of Jack’s Ridge in the year when the world championship is in town.
“If we are lucky to have the WRC back then we will use Jack’s Ridge as a component in the WRC. It will be a power stage.”