Rally Wairarapa Inc has announced that the 2011 edition of their event has a new date and a change in the seasons
Moving from September and the end of the rally season, Rally Wairarapa will now jump forward to 27-29 May and become the third round of the New Zealand Rally Championship.
“This is fantastic news for us” says Rally Chairman John Clunie. On the ground it is a better time for the local farmers and residents, plus the weather should provide better rally conditions on the roads. As a competition, it provides an ideal link with the Otago Classic Rally.
The inclusion of the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally within the event in 2010 was a huge success, which was highly popular with competitors and spectators alike. This classic event was also partnered with the Otago Classic Rally to make the Classic Challenge Trophy series.
“Now that the two classic events can run weeks apart, we’re sure the classic challenge in 2011 will be fantastic”, says John. Certainly the organisers of both events can see significant benefits from the line-up in dates. “We’re working closely together to establish the classic challenge as highly valued series, attracting international competitors” adds John.
The inaugural running of the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally this year, within the overall Rally Wairarapa event certainly added another dimension to the competition. While the spectators enjoyed the speed and spectacle of the national championship contenders, it was the sights and sounds of the mighty Escorts, RX7s and Corollas that they stayed to watch and soak up the atmosphere.
The duelling Escorts of Regan Ross and Derek Ayson were a highlight of the 2010 event. Ross had the advantage on day one with a 15 second lead at the overnight halt. However an all out assault by Ayson on the second day saw him claw back the deficit by the end of the third stage. With stage times separating these two by less than 10 seconds for the rest of the day, it was Ayson who finally shone through to take the classic rally win by a little over 12 seconds. Ayson at the end saying “Those roads were great, it is the hardest I’ve ever had to drive”.
Now with a little over 6 months for the Rally Wairarapa organising team to get the 2011 event ready, the work has begun again, almost as soon as the last event finished. “We’ve got great people and great systems in place”, says John Clunie. “So we know we can deliver another first class event in such a short space of time”.
As has now become the tradition, the event will be based at the fabulous Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park. An icon in the Wairarapa and an icon of the rally, it provides the ideal location for a major event. Everything is centralised in this location, from accommodation and food, to the Rally Headquarters, the media centre, the start and finish ramp, to the Prizegiving and after match function. “The Solway certainly makes our life easier in organising and running the event” says John.
Now, as we all look forward to the 2011 rally season, Rally Wairarapa is shaping up to be a fantastic event with the excitement of the National Championship, the nostalgia of the Classics, and the passion of the regional competitors in the Central Region Rally Series.
With the proximity in time to the Otago Classic Rally, and the raising profile of the Classic Challenge Trophy, Rally Wairarapa and the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally are hoping to make exciting announcements in the near future.