The exciting motorsport of rallycross will be showcased at a brand-new, live-under-lights event at ASB Baypark Stadium early next year.
International stars will compete against New Zealand’s best rally drivers over two days of high speed competition in the inaugural New Zealand International Rallycross event running 27 and 28 February 2016 at the Mt Maunganui venue.
Event organiser Ron Dixon says live circuit and stadium-based rallycross events have gained huge followings in Europe and North America in recent years and he’s aiming to bring the intense action and excitement of international rallycross to the Baypark event.
“Rallycross, as a form of motorsport, was developed in Europe several decades ago as a faster paced and more spectator-friendly alternative to traditional rallying,” says Mr Dixon. “It’s now recognised at the highest level with its own FIA World Rallycross Championship with Petter Solberg – a former WRC driver who is hugely popular with New Zealanders – winning the inaugural World Rallycross title in 2014.
“Last year, Kiwis also followed the exhilarating rallycross campaign of New Zealand rally driver Emma Gilmour, who became the first-ever female driver for the US-based Red Bull Global Rallycross team, competing alongside expat Kiwi Rhys Millen in a Hyundai Veloster Turbo.”
Mr Dixon has run rallycross events previously in the US and hopes to attract significant numbers of competitors to entertain a potential audience of 17,000 in ASB Baypark Stadium.
“Rallycross was popular in New Zealand in the 1970s and ‘80s. In a nutshell, rallycross takes the fire-spitting, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive machines that are used in traditional point to point rallying and unleashes their inner beast. Rather than competing one at a time against the clock, packs of drivers go wheel to wheel on short courses that are a mixture of pavement and dirt. Short heat races are the order of the day, eliminating the slower cars until the fastest 10 make the final. In total, spectators can enjoy 60 quick-fire races, both heats and finals, of six laps each on a 1.5 km circuit, purpose-built at Baypark, across what will be a family-friendly weekend of motorsport action.”
Mr Dixon says negotiations are underway to secure drivers from off-shore with further announcements to be made closer to the event.
“It will be great to see rallycross re-established in New Zealand and I am very pleased to have the support of Motorsport Bay of Plenty, Bay Venues and MotorSport New Zealand in putting this event together.
“New Zealand International Rallycross will be a big weekend of family entertainment and also a great opportunity to entertain clients, sponsors, friends and families.”