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New Zealand's rally roads best says FIA safety inspector


New Zealand's famed roads have been given the thumbs up by the world body, the FIA for November's round of the World Rally Championship.

Untitled Document FIA safety officer Simo Lampinen, former Finnish rally great, believes the roads for November's Propecia Rally of New Zealand are among the best in the world.

Lampinen has completed an inspection of the special stages for the event to be staged in and around Hamilton and the Waikato on 16-19 November.

With the 36th Propecia Rally New Zealand based on new roads, Lampinen said he was interested how they would stack up against the tried and proven rally roads used over recent years.
"Drivers often say they like the roads in New Zealand the best. I think this will be no different," Mr Lampinen said.
"I have never been on such great special stages for many years. They are absolutely incredible."

The Finn, who won some of the toughest rally events including his home 1000 Lakes Rally, said he was impressed by the road surface, the flow through the stages and the consistent character of the roads.
"I think the drivers will find them very exciting. And because of this I think you will see a fantastic rally."
Mr Lampinen said that the new roads in action for this year's rally will ensure the best driver wins.

"There is no advantage for those who have really good pace notes from previous years.

"Nobody will have an advantage. It will be up to them to get good pace notes and the combination between this and driving fast will win the rally."
He believes the 43.85km stage on the first stage of the rally near Otorohanga will prove the signature stage of the rally.

"Te Koraha stage, which they will complete twice on the first leg, is a very tough stage. It is impressive because it just continues to flow throughout the whole 43.85kms. It is one of the longest stages in the WRC and they will really enjoy this challenge.

"They will have one stage to get into action and then they will hit this stage. I think it is a tremendous special stage."

He also said that the traditional stunning stages including Whaanga Coast near Raglan will not only be a real test for the drivers, but will offer remarkable pictures to be beamed around the world.
"New Zealand is very fortunate because it has so many side roads that will enable spectators to get in to see some of this action."

Mr Lampinen said he feels that Finland's Marcus Gronholm (Ford) will enjoy the challenge in New Zealand.

"Gronholm drives very fast on fast and flowing roads. He has gone well in New Zealand before and I think he will really enjoy these roads

"World champion Sebastian Loeb has such good physical and mental strengths that he can keep up a consistently high pace all the time on longer stages."

Mr Lampinen said there are some minor holes to attend to but overall he has already given the rally route the green light.

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