Whangarei gets a double helping of international rally action this year and officials have now published details of the roads to be used for the International Rally of Whangarei over the weekend of 2 to 4 July
Following the World Rally Championship event that uses roads in the Kaipara and Whangarei districts in early May, teams contesting the Whangarei-based rally in July get to enjoy some variety with very little overlap of stages used in May.
The International Rally of Whangarei features in two prestigious rally calendars in 2010 – it’s a round of both the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship. The two-day rally covers 285km of gravel, divided into 16 special stages.
Fans can enjoy the ceremonial start in Whangarei’s Cameron Street Mall from 5pm on Friday 2 July, preceded by the official driver autograph signing session in the Mall. Then the real test begins at 8am on Saturday morning as the top seed leaves the service park in the Quayside Town Basin.
Using two loops of stages repeated twice over each of the two days only one section of Sunday’s Swamp Road will be shared between the events, says organising committee chairman Willard Martin.
“The only part that is the same is the Hella Bridge (Wairere). We’ve purposely kept the roads that we’ve closed separate so we are not imposing on the residents,” says Martin.
“Starting with the 33.99km Mititai stage near Paparoa, the Saturday route also includes two new stages Girls High School and Otuhi roads before returning to Whangarei for the popular super special stage at Pohe Island.
“These two new stages - the 27km Girls High School and 9.35km Otuhi – are both high quality roads. Girls High School we have looked at before, but it now fits perfectly. With Whangarei home to the event base and service park, this stage now completes the loop back into the city. The road itself will be very challenging with quick, slow, wide and narrow sections, plus surface changes – so it’ll be a highly technical stage for drivers.
“Pohe Island will be slightly different to 2009 as contractors have been putting another clay layer over the landfill area, which alters the road route,” said Martin of a variation to the 1.5 kilometre super special stage following earthworks.
Teams return to the Quayside Town Basin for a 20 minute midday service break, and then repeat the morning’s loop before returning for the overnight park just before 5pm.
Sunday’s remaining eight stages begin at 7am on a route almost identical to 2009. The international and New Zealand drivers contest well-known and respected roads such as Batley, Wairere, Millbrook and Waipu Caves. Competitors return to Whangarei for a late morning service before repeating the four stages and again returning to the Quayside Town Basin for the 3:30pm ceremonial finish.
The event enjoys considerable logistical support from the Kaipara and Whangarei councils. Martin points out the councils’ support helps ensure two top-class international events can be run in the region without over-extending resources. In return, half the proceeds of all spectator ticket sales are returned to the community through the likes of the charitable Maungaturoto Co-operative and other community groups.