Rally fans rejoice; Rally New Zealand organisers have today confirmed two new events, the City of Auckland Rally and the Battle of Jack’s Ridge will be staged in November.
Following the indefinite cancellation of World Rally Championship’s return to New Zealand earlier this year, the new event will comprise stages that were planned for the WRC round both North and East of the Auckland.
The City of Auckland Rally will be held on Saturday 14 November and include stages in the Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and Riverhead Forest before its conclusion at the purpose-built road “Jack’s Ridge” in Whitford.
The Battle of Jack’s Ridge will be a standalone rally sprint on Sunday 15 November which will feature an open category rally sprint over a section of the 6.2km Jack’s Ridge stage.
Kiwi rally sensation Hayden Paddon will feature in the event in both his 300bhp rally spec AP4 and his high-powered hill climb car across the two days.
“Clearly we had planned to spotlight these stages at the FIA World Rally Championship event in September,” said Rally New Zealand Chairman, Peter Johnston.
“We were so pleased with the route that was coming together for Rally New Zealand, and now we want to share the Auckland-based stages with rally drivers and our fans.
“There are some incredible rally stages north and west of the city which are fan-friendly and on Auckland’s door step.”
The jewel in the crown is Jack’s Ridge, which has been purpose-built by ex-New Zealand Rally Championship winner Andrew Hawkeswood. It is planned to be used as the power stage for Rally New Zealand.
“Jack’s Ridge is unlike anything seen before in the history of New Zealand rallying. The stage is exciting and highly technical, incredibly spectator friendly and is easily accessible for fans.”
“It’s something that’s been bubbling away for a little while, but the World Rally Championship returning was the perfect motivation to make it happen. Building Jack’s Ridge was all about using the lay of the land to create a stage that drivers would love combined with safe and prime spectating opportunities,” said Hawkeswood.
Despite being shelved for 2020, Rally NZ organisers are remaining hopeful that the iconic roads will feature on the WRC calendar for 2021.
“We are taking this opportunity to shakedown Jack’s Ridge and the stages around Auckland to showcase our preparedness for hosting the 2021 WRC event” added Johnston.
“The FIA and WRC Promoter are aware that we have invested significantly into the return of Rally New Zealand.
“We believe when fans get the chance to check out Jack’s Ridge, they will get a sense of the excitement and magnitude of hosting the World Rally Championship which we hope will be included on the 2021 calendar.”