This year’s International Rally of Whangarei offers multiple opportunities for spectators to see the best rally drivers in the Asia Pacific and New Zealand, as they contest the event over the weekend of 2 to 4 July
The International Rally of Whangarei covers 16 special stages and 285km of gravel roads in the Whangarei and Kaipara districts, with entrants collecting points in one or more of the following series: 2010 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), 2010 FIA Pacific Cup, 2010 Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) and 2010 Stilo Top Half Series.
Fans can get among the rally action from 3.30pm on Friday 2 July when an hour-long driver autograph signing session takes place in Whangarei’s Cameron Street Mall before the event’s entertaining ceremonial start, also in the Cameron Street Mall from 4:30pm. Rally experts introduce each crew to the crowd as they cross the start ramp with the 67-strong field appearing in reverse order. Top seed Katsu Taguchi will cross the ramp about 6pm.
The action proper begins on Saturday morning as drivers strive to set fastest time over roads rated by World Rally Championship (WRC) competitors as some of the best in the world.
A variety of vantage points allow spectators to watch the exciting motorsport action un-fold, says Willard Martin, chairman of the International Rally of Whangarei organising committee.
“Having used several roads in the Whangarei and Kaipara districts for WRC Rally New Zealand in early May, we have devised a new route which sees only one small section used in both events, Swamp Road and its iconic hump-backed bridge, on the ‘Wairere’ stage. The changed route and new roads offer some fantastic spectator viewing points.
“Several prime spectator viewing areas include catering, event commentary and toilet facilities. Access to these prime viewing areas costs $10 per adult, with a share of the revenue returned to the local community groups who help run the spectator points.
“Saturday’s route features two prime spectator points. One is mid-way through the new ‘Girls High School’ stage near the settlement of Pukehuia, west of Tangihua Forest. This is the second-longest stage in the rally at 27.06km in length and is repeated twice on Saturday which Taguchi, as first car on the road, starts at 10:01am and 2:31pm.
“Saturday’s other top viewing point is at the ‘Whangarei super special stage’, a 1.5km dash around Pohe Island’s park just a couple of kilometres from central Whangarei. The last two years have seen the local Lions Clubs put on a fantastic family fun day as part of the rally action, and they’ll be doing this again this year.
“The Pohe Island super special stage runs twice, the first starting at 11:27am and a repeat run from 3:57pm.
“The family fun day features the hugely popular Doug the Digger and his friend Mr Mac. Doug has a special skill to show all his fans – the art of shifting an egg from one place to another with his steel digger bucket. The local four-wheel-drive club is expecting up to 40 competitors for what’s sure to be an entertaining series of mud races and a mud tug o’ war best-of-the-best competition. Members of the public can enjoy rides in the thundering 4WDs as well as displays from local hot rod and classic car clubs, complemented by some of the mad-cap Variety Bash vehicles.
“From 9am, a motorcycle ‘dash for cash’ race is expected to attract around 150 competitors, and food and refreshments for the whole family will be on sale all day. So there’s sure to be plenty of entertainment and activities to try for all the family, with proceeds from the family fun day going towards the Lions Clubs’ annual fundraising efforts.”
Martin continues: “On Sunday there are two popular spectator points: beside the iconic Hella bridge on Swamp Road which is used for ‘Wairere’ or special stages 10 and 14, and at the intersection of Ruarangi and Graham Roads on ‘Waipu Caves’, special stages 12 and 16. The overnight leader starts ‘Wairere’ at 8:51am and again at 1:06pm, while they’ll be heading through ‘Waipu Caves’ starting at 9:47am, repeating at 2:02pm.
“Many Whangarei fans will then head for the ceremonial finish at the Quayside Town Basin which starts at 3:30pm.”
Martin says: “The official map for the International Rally of Whangarei includes detailed descriptions on how to get to all the designated spectator points and clear notes for rally fans to keep themselves safe while enjoying the rally action. It’s important to remember this is an intensely-fought, high speed competition – all kind of things can and will happen when you least expect them, so please follow the instructions of the safety marshals.”
The rally map is available free from the rally headquarters on the corner of Dent Street and Quayside Way, Quayside Town Basin, Whangarei. Stage passes (tickets) can be purchased on the day from spectator points, from the rally headquarters from Wednesday 30 June, or from the official rally bar Salut Bar and Brasserie on Bank Street from Monday 14 June. Keen rally fans can also find the rally teams celebrating at Salut Bar on Sunday night after the rally.
Details on the spectator locations, maps and stage times can be downloaded from the event website www.rallywhangarei.co.nz and all also feature in the ‘ultimate Rally Whangarei guide’ published by the Northern Advocate on 30 June. The guide also contains driver profiles and space for collecting autographs.
Key spectator points:
Friday 2 July, 3.30 pm – Driver autograph session – Cameron Street Mall, Whangarei – FREE
Friday 2 July, 4.30 pm – Ceremonial Start – Cameron Street Mall, Whangarei – FREE
All weekend – Service Park – Quayside Town Basin, Whangarei – FREE
All weekend – Gold Pass – for all special stages, including super special stage – $30/adult
Saturday 3 July – Day pass for special stage spectator points, not including super special stage – $10/adult
Saturday 3 July – Pass for Pohe Island super special stage – $10/adult
Sunday 4 July - Day pass for special stage spectator points – $10/adult
Sunday 4 July 3.30 pm – Ceremonial Finish – Quayside Town Basin, Whangarei – FREE
Children under 15 years of age, accompanied by an adult – FREE to all ticketed areas