The World Rally Championship returns to New Zealand in 2012, with the World Motor Sport Council soon to confirm the date that Rally New Zealand will run next year
Rally New Zealand chairman Peter (‘PJ’) Johnston says he is delighted that New Zealand will again be a WRC round in 2012.
“Rally New Zealand is the longest-running world championship event in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere and it’s fantastic that our heritage and commitment to this world-class motorsport category has been recognised,” says Johnston.
Members of the World Motor Sport Council were presented with a draft 2012 calendar, which lists New Zealand, when they met in Paris earlier in March. Council members will complete a fax vote by early April to confirm the exact dates for each country’s WRC round.
“We don’t have a possible date that the event will run yet, but as soon as we know more, we’ll let people know. The issue, we understand, is that of shipping logistics and the need for the F1 and WRC management organisations to resolve some issues with date clashes.”
Johnston is excited about the commercial and global promotional opportunities that arise from having Rally New Zealand confirmed as a WRC round in 2012.
“Around 50 million people watch the television broadcasts of each WRC event around the world. These television broadcasts and the enormous interest from general news and sports media mean the 2012 WRC Rally New Zealand offers an amazing opportunity to showcase New Zealand to a truly global audience. As details for the 2012 event are confirmed, we welcome the chance to speak with relevant organisations about how we can work together for the benefit of our organisations and New Zealand as a whole.”
Like other rally enthusiasts, Johnston has been following recent news that Volkswagen and Saab may enter the WRC in 2012. “Not only will we see Mini’s new WRC team in action in New Zealand next year, it would be very exciting to have Volkswagen and Saab join in the championship chase as well.”
The 2012 WRC regulations will also reflect a change in the minimum weight of the seats in WRC cars. These are being increased from 1 January 2012 in order to increase safety, and there will also be greater freedom on the type of seat material used, enabling competitors to use homologated seats with carbon shells at a more reasonable cost. Also, from 1 January 2013, the assumed weight of the crew will be increased from 150 kg to 160 kg to reflect average weights.