Hard on the heels of the 2012 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, powered by Brother, comes the unveiling of a unified structure teams wanting to be the next Richard Mason or Hayden Paddon can focus on for the 2013 title.
Announced by championship promoters Rally of New Zealand Ltd, the 2013 portfolio extends to cover six rounds, two of which will be in the South Island. Other changes include an amalgamation of the 4WD classes and restrictions on the numbers of tyres teams can use.
Additionally, all competitors, regardless of their competition class, will score points toward the overall New Zealand championship and Gold Star driver title.
Summarising the portfolio for the 2013 championship season, series co-coordinator Laurie Brenssell says any changes have been to simplify the competition structure for anyone wanting to be a New Zealand champion.
"We're really pleased to have a signed-off document competitors can commit to for 2013. Extending the calendar, extending competition criteria and adding a new challenge title makes for a really sharp looking season ahead," says Brenssell.
"Four of the rounds will be one day events with Otago and Whangarei having a multi-day component.
"We are committed to providing a clearly tiered competitive structure to becoming a New Zealand champion and beyond. That includes there are no date clashes with the calendar we've been provided for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - the next step outside competing locally.
"The top-tier 4WD cars will all compete as one class, using a 36mm air intake restrictor for the turbo-charged models. For those who wish to compete at Group N (production) specification, particularly for the international category Whangarei round – they can, and still earn points toward their overall title. Then there is the Group N and Open Class 2WD categories, along with the Historic Challenge Trophy for cars from yesteryear and the newly formed Rally Challenge Trophy."
Announcing the Rally Challenge Trophy, Brenssell explains the title is for teams who wish to only compete at one day of the multi-leg events and still be part of the top-tier.
"The Rally Challenge Trophy is aimed at those who want to be part of the series without spending the extra time away. They show up on the Friday, compete on the Saturday and go home on the Sunday."
Other tweaks include the recently introduced power stage where teams can earn bonus points for setting fastest time outright. Proving popular it has been decided to increase the rewards: "The power stage now attracts up to five bonus championship points by setting fastest time in that one section. This year we've seen many of our younger drivers rise to the challenge and earn some easy points – so we've extended what is on offer to reward the top-five fastest."
Another significant inclusion is the pre-start ceremony to decide the running order of the first five cars for the opening day. Based on the results from the previous round's power stage, the fastest team gets to decide their start position from first through to fifth.
"This has become popular in the World Rally Championship so we've introduced a New Zealand version to tie in with the power stage results. Aside from the glory of being able to pick your start position at the event opening, teams will have to think long and hard about their strategy so it adds another level to the competition.
"We're also keen on promoting teams using non mineral blends of fuel. It's surprising the numbers who have been campaigning primary sector derived ethanol fuelling – available commercially from select service stations."
Full details on the 2013 portfolio will be available shortly on the www.motorsport.org.nz website.
News and information about the championship – including driver profiles and team news – can be found on the website www.nzrallychampionship.co.nz