Three New Zealand rally drivers will test themselves against the world's best in November's Propecia Rally New Zealand.
The 36th edition of arguably the longest running international sporting event in this country is scheduled for 16-19 November. The 15th and penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship will be based in and around Hamilton and the Waikato.
Propecia Rally New Zealand, in a bid to foster Kiwi rally drivers on to the world stage, will announce the winners of three scholarships next week.
Two drivers will be awarded the opportunity to compete in the New Zealand round of the FIA World Rally Championship while a female newcomer will also be given the chance of a lifetime.
Rally New Zealand organisers have negotiated for two New Zealand drivers to start in the PWRC class at the championship. This is the world production car division which will contest the final round of their world championship in New Zealand.
With the New Zealand Rally Championship now racing under the same specifications as the PWRC, it is an opportunity for the two New Zealand drivers to test themselves against the best.
More than 14 drivers from around the globe have indicated they intend to start in the New Zealand round.
"It the past we have given young New Zealand drivers a start in the event," said Chris Carr, new chairman of Propecia Rally New Zealand.
"That's been a tremendous experience for them although they have been seeded at the bottom of the order and never really got to be part of the international action.
"This year they will be able to line-up with the best drivers in the world in this class. They will be seeded just behind the WRC cars on the start line. "When cars are reseeded on the second day based on their finishing order from the previous day, then those two New Zealand drivers could find themselves at the top if they are good enough."
Propecia Rally New Zealand has received considerable interest from applicants for the two slots including current New Zealand Rally Champion Richard Mason, the Hawkes Bay round winner Chris West and Mark Tapper who has been competing in Asia and the Pacific this year.
There will also be an opportunity for an up-and-coming woman to experience the World Rally Championship round.
The free entry is offered to the best female newcomer to the sport.
"We want more women in our sport and hope this will encourage them. We have a few who have done extremely well like Emma Gilmour who has come through the ranks.
"Emma is now challenging at the top of the New Zealand Rally Championship and has already had two starts in the World Rally Championship this year.
"So we are looking for more to come into our sport, and hope this scholarship will be a real incentive."
For further information on the Propecia Rally New Zealand checkout the website www.rallynz.org.nz