After a decade long wait, the World Rally Championship is not only heading back to New Zealand, but to the heart of its biggest city.
Rally New Zealand, which will be part of the FIA World Rally Championship for the 32nd time, today announced that the event, to be held from 29 September to 2 October 2022, will be located on Auckland’s waterfront with its fan zone the REPCO Rally Village and service park utilising Silo Park and the bases on Wynyard Point in Wynyard Quarter.
A global television audience of over 80 million will watch on as the world’s best drivers navigate some iconic New Zealand landscapes all from a central service base in the heart of Auckland city.
The world’s best rally drivers will be returning to race on what many consider the best rallying roads in the world. They are led by some emerging and exciting drivers who will face off against our best including Hayden Paddon and Emma Gilmour. Huge intrigue remains over whether French rally legends Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier, who have won 17 world championships between them and committed to a part-time schedule in 2022, will make the trip to Auckland.
“The event has been five years in the making and there has been an extraordinary amount of hard work and discussions to bring the WRC back to New Zealand,” said Michael Goldstein, CEO of Rally New Zealand.
“Now we are pulling out all stops to put on a great show and bring the rally to the people. Today we are excited to announce that we are bringing on board an invaluable partner in REPCO as the naming sponsor and we’re excited for the REPCO Rally Village and service park to be located in Wynyard Quarter.
“With our base in this iconic part of the Auckland waterfront, our fans, international guests and the wider public will have incredible access to the WRC show.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he was pleased to confirm that the rally’s service park and the REPCO rally village will be based on Auckland’s waterfront.
“After more than two years with the borders closed to protect New Zealanders against COVID-19, it’s fantastic to see a major international event of this magnitude returning to Auckland,” he says.
“The FIA World Rally Championship will draw thousands of visitors and spectators to our city centre, providing a welcome boost to businesses that have been impacted by the lockdowns and border closures.
“Spectators, team members and support crews will enjoy not only the rally itself, but also our unique Auckland hospitality and stunning downtown waterfront.”
For naming sponsor REPCO, bringing the WRC back to New Zealand is especially poignant.
“REPCO is 100 years young this year,” said Louise Sixton, General Manager Repco NZ. “It’s not every year you put 100 laps on the clock, sharing the passion with New Zealand race fans for a century.
“To celebrate turning a “ton”, we’re making 2022 the biggest year for motorsport in New Zealand ever.
“REPCO is supporting both the Repco Supercars Championship and, for the first time in 14 years, the Repco Rally of New Zealand. It’s going to be a great year and we have big plans to bring the event to life with Rally New Zealand across all 87 Repco branches nationwide, and in the REPCO Rally Village.
”The emblematic automotive parts and accessories retailer has previously backed Rally New Zealand’s Repco Battle of Jack’s Ridge event 18 months ago, won by star New Zealand driver, Shane van Gisbergen.
“It is fantastic to have REPCO along for the ride. They are synonymous with motorsport from the days of the Repco Brabham Formula One team all the way to their sponsorship of our awesome Battle of Jack’s Ridge event 18 months ago, said Goldstein.
“REPCO share our energy and passion for the sport and above all have a desire to help to reconnect kiwi fans with this monumental global motorsport championship.”
Rally New Zealand organisers will make further announcements in the coming weeks in relation to the rally route.
Fans attending the World Rally Championship round in Auckland this September can purchase early-bird Rally Gold Pass tickets now at www.rallynewzealand.com with very limited numbers remaining within the early bird release.
Further ticket details will be released following the confirmation of the event route.
International fans are encouraged to visit www.wrctoursnz.com to enquire about a customised tour package where through the official tour partner they’ll see the best of Rally New Zealand.
A simple regional qualifying system will feed the all-in final to decide the 2022 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Champion (APRC).
Comprising eight rounds, the change has been introduced to ease limitations some countries are encountering during the tail-end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a two-year hiatus where continual travel restrictions and event cancellations forced the series to pause awarding the title, the opening and easing of border restrictions are ensuring a 2022 international final can be run.
To be eligible, teams must start one qualifying round and be nominated by their country’s governing motorsport body (National Sporting Authority – ASN). Up to five teams from India, New Zealand, Japan, China and Australia can be nominated for the final. Entrants from other countries will need to contest one of the qualifying rounds.
“For rounds that are still facing COVID-19 restrictions this ensures drivers and teams can be part of the competition. It levels the playing field,” said APRC Working Group chairman Mr Vicky Chandhok.
“The top-three placegetters at each round will auto-qualify with the remaining two positions awarded by that country’s ASN on a ‘wild card’ basis.
“Also, current global freight delays are putting immense pressure on timeframes to transport cars between rounds, this ensures teams can qualify at a home event and then focus on one international trip.”
In addition, the New Zealand based APRC secretariat has a fund to offer NZ$3,000 per nominated and eligible team to put toward competition costs.
Within the championship, category titles will also be contested, including the Asia and Pacific Cups. Currently, the two New Zealand rounds will use the alternate qualifying method due to travel restrictions. Rounds taking this option aren’t eligible for regional points.
Competition begins on 25 March with the running of the South India Rally, which is also the opening round of the Asia Cup. The final will be run in Australia during the weekend 25-27 November.
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