One of the most spectacular events, both in terms of challenge and landscape, returns to the FIA World Rally Championship next week (September 29-October 2).

For the first time since 2012, New Zealand is preparing to welcome the WRC crews and teams for a gravel rally like no other.

Smooth, high-speed sweeps combine with cambered corners to offer a thrilling driving experience. Add stunning countryside and breath-taking scenery to the mix and it quickly becomes clear why Rally New Zealand’s return to the global stage is so eagerly anticipated.

Following two years of COVID-19 restrictions, the opportunity to host the WRC provides another timely boost to motor sport in the Asia-Pacific region, with confirmation that the FIA Rally Star Asia-Pacific Final will be held in India from October 10-12.

But it’s New Zealand and, more specifically, the country’s North Island where the focus lies in just a few days when the 11th instalment of the FIA’s hybrid-powered Rally1 era takes place.

All three manufacturers – Hyundai, M-Sport (Ford) and Toyota – have won in 2022, while four drivers – Sébastien Loeb, Thierry Neuville, Kalle Rovanperä and Ott Tänak – have shared the wins to highlight the championship’s competitive nature.

With Rovanperä edging closer to the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship, it’s fitting that his Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier, the eight-time title winner and outgoing champion, is making his latest appearance of what had been planned as a partial campaign but will now include the season-closing events in Spain and Japan as well.

The WRC’s official tyre supplier Pirelli will provide its Scorpion KX soft and hard tyres for Rally New Zealand. Designed for cool and damp conditions, the soft compound is the first choice with the hard compound option ideal for warm and dry weather. Rally1 teams can use a maximum of 28 tyres for the event including four for Shakedown.

 

THE 2022 ROUTE

Kicking off with a 1.40-kilometre parkland stage in Pukekawa Auckland Domain in the heart of the city on Thursday evening, the challenge intensifies considerably on Friday with a 160.34-kilometre timed route in the Waikato region south of the host city. The itinerary includes repeated runs through the iconic Whaanga Coast test, plus double visits to Te Akau South and Te Akau North. Te Akau South is the longest stage of the rally at 31.48 kilometres. With only a Tyre Fitting Zone but no midday service, risk avoidance and car preservation will be key.

Saturday’s 88.28-kilometre second leg is focused on stages in the Kaipara region north of Auckland. Again, three repeated stages are scheduled but this time there’s a midday service in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.

Two runs through the Whitford Forest – Te Maraunga Waiho and the purpose-built Jack’s Ridge Haunui stages form the competitive running on leg three, which is based in the Franklin district close to Auckland and covers 31.18 timed kilometres. The repeat of Jack’s Ridge Haunui will run as the event-deciding Power Stage when bonus points will be handed to the fastest five drivers overall and the fastest three in FIA WRC2.

 

RALLY DATA

Stage distance:    279.80 km
Total distance:       1379.97 km
Number of stages:17

 

RALLY1 CONTENDERS

FIA Word Rally Championship leaders Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen top the Rally New Zealand entry list aboard their Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, which is run under the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT banner. The Finns are 53 points ahead in the title chase and could take the provisional world title if results go in their favour in the Southern Hemisphere.

Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin have yet to win in the WRC this season having finished runners-up in 2020 and 2021. While Martin has competed on Rally New Zealand twice before, the event is all-new to Evans.

Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas from France return to Toyota for their first WRC outing since Safari Rally Kenya in June. Ogier’s one and only Rally New Zealand appearance came in 2009, when he finished second overall.

Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta completes Toyota’s line-up alongside his Irish co-driver Aaron Johnston with the event new to both.

Boosted by winning the last three WRC rounds in Finland, Belgium and Greece with its i20 N Rally1, Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team counts on Estonians Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja, Belgians Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe, plus Swede Oliver Solberg and his British co-driver Elliott Edmondson. Solberg’s father Petter competed against Neuville and Tänak when New Zealand last hosted the WRC in 2012.

Irishmen Craig Breen/Paul Nagle head the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team entry with Briton Gus Greensmith and his Swedish co-driver Jonas Andersson competing in a second Ford Puma Rally1. Italian privateer Lorenzo Bertelli is set to make his debut in a Rally1 car when he takes part in a third Puma alongside co-driver Simone Scattolin. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria’s planned entry has been withdrawn.

 

THE SUPPORTING CATEGORIES

Hayden Paddon, New Zealand’s most successful rally driver, will carry the hopes of a nation on his shoulders as he bids for victory in the FIA WRC2 Open category in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2. The Production world champion from 2011 is making his comeback to global-level competition in 2022 and is set to battle Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) for top honours. Former Australian champion and WRC2 Junior entrant Harry Bates is also set to be a contender for victory, as will Ben Hunt, a two-time winner of the New Zealand championship. German Armin Kremer heads the WRC2 Masters’ Cup contenders and can make it three class wins in a row on Rally New Zealand. Leading New Zealand racing driver Shane van Gisbergen, a double Australian Supercars champion, will make his WRC debut on his home round of the championship.

 

MEDIA ACCREDITATION

Media accreditation must be collected in person by accredited pass holders from the Accreditation Office at the Media Centre, Level 4, The Grid, 12 Madden St, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010. The following opening hours apply:

Tuesday September 27: 09:00-17:00

Wednesday September 28: 08:00-18:30

Thursday September 29: 07:00-20:00

 

The Media Centre is located at Level 4, The Grid, 12 Madden St, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010. The following opening hours apply:

Tuesday September 27: 09:00-17:00

Wednesday September 28: 08:00-18:30

Thursday September 29: 07:00-20:00

Friday September 30: 08:00-21:00

Saturday October 1: 08:00-21:00

Sunday October 2: 07:00-20:00

 

2022 REPCO RALLY NEW ZEALAND TIMETABLE AND MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

Wednesday September 28 
FIA Tabard Media Safety Briefing, Media Centre, Auckland16:00 hrs
Team media functions (contact teams directly for information)From 17:00 hrs
Media welcome drink, Good George North Wharf, 1 Jellicoe Street18:00 hrs
  
Thursday September 29 
Shakedown for P1 and invited drivers, Inland Road Helensville09:01-11:00 hrs
Shakedown for P2, P3 and non-Priority drivers, Inland Road Helensville,11:00-13:00 hrs
Meet the Crews (Top 3 Shakedown), Service Park12:00 hrs
Pre-event FIA press conference, Media Centre, Auckland*14:00 hrs
Autograph signing session, Pukekawa Auckland Domain16:30 hrs
Selected P2 drivers16:30 – 16:45 hrs
All P1 drivers 16:45 – 17:00 hrs
Ceremonial Start, Powhiri and photo opp., Pukekawa Auckland Domain17:30 hrs
  
Friday September 30 
Start of Section 2, Service Park, Auckland05:45 hrs
Meet the Crews, Service Park, AucklandAround 20:20 hrs
  
Saturday October 1 
Start of Section 4, Service Park, Auckland06:22 hrs
Meet the Crews, Service Park, AucklandAround 18:30 hrs
  
Sunday October 2 
Start of Section 6, Service Park, Auckland09:14 hrs
Podium Ceremony, Jack’s Ridge Haunui16:10 hrs
Post-event FIA press conference, , Jack’s Ridge Haunui *16:45 hrs

*Press Conferences will be available to accredited media attending onsite and no longer streamed via Zoom. However, a written transcript will be available afterwards.

 

MEDIA ZONES

All priority drivers, and co-drivers upon request, will bbe available for media interviews at the following times:

TC1A, TC4A, TC7A, TC10A, TC13A, TC15A, TC17A

 

FIA PRESS CONFERENCE ATTENDANCE

Thursday September 29

14:00 – FIA WRC2 Championship

Hayden Paddon (NZL), Hyundai i20 N

Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), Škoda Fabia Evo

Ben Hunt (NZL), Škoda Fabia Evo

Shane van Gisbergen (NZL), Škoda Fabia

 

14:15 – FIA WRC Championship

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) and Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT – Ott Tänak (EST), Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid

M-Sport Ford WRT – Craig Breen (IRL) and Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA), Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid

 

Sunday October 2 (from 16:45)

Top three drivers in the overall classification

Representative of the winning manufacturer

Winning FIA WRC2 Championship drivers (Open and Masters Cup)

 

2022 REPCO RALLY NEW ZEALAND MANUFACTURER ENTRIES

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRTKalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN) – #69
 Elfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR) – #33
 Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Benjamin Veillas (FRA) – #1
  
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRTOtt Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST) – #8
 Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) – #11
 Oliver Solberg (SWE) / Ellott Edmondson – #2
M-Sport Ford WRTCraig Breen (IRL) / Paul Nagle (IRL) – #42
 Gus Greensmith (GBR) / Jonas Andersson (SWE) – #44

 

2022 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSIFICATIONS

The provisional classification following round 10 of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season is available at this link: https://www.fia.com/events/world-rally-championship/season-2022/standings

 

2012 RALLY NEW ZEALAND RESULTS

1 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel ElenaCitroën DS3 WRC4h04m51.2s
2 Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo LehtinenCitroën DS3 WRC+29.6s
3 Petter Solberg/Chris PattersonFord Fiesta RS WRC+1m36.4s

 

RECENT WINNERS (WRC EVENTS ONLY)

2012Sébastien Loeb/Daniel ElenaCitroën DS3 WRC
2011Hayden Paddon/John KennardSubaru Impreza STi
2010Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka AnttilaFord Focus RS WRC ‘09
2008Sébastien Loeb/Daniel ElenaCitroën C4 WRC
2007Marcus Grönholm/Timo RautiainenFord Focus RS WRC ‘07

Fuente: www.fia.com