RACING

Auckland Domain confirmed as iconic venue for Rally New Zealand super special stage

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The route for this year’s Rally New Zealand has been confirmed, starting with a super stage at Auckland Domain.

The event is back on the WRC calendar for the first time in 10 years and after several false starts, caused by Covid 19, full details of Rally NZ’s 17 stages were announced on Tuesday.

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As previously reported by Stuff, the event will kick off with a super special stage in the heart of the city on September 29.

On Friday, the rally proper kicks off with a bang, starting with the epic Whaanga Hill stage near Raglan, which the drivers will traverse twice, as part of the day’s six stages.

On Saturday, the rally heads north from Auckland for six more stages.

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Then on Sunday there will be only four stages, but twice through the new Jacks stage, near Whitford, the second time being the power stage, where further championship points will be up for grabs.

The World Rally Championship will take place on a 1.4km stage in Auckland.

JASON DORDAY/STUFF/Stuff

The World Rally Championship will take place on a 1.4km stage in Auckland.

While tickets will be needed to see the stages from Friday to Sunday, Thursday’s super special will be free to the public.

The 1.4km stage starts in front of the Auckland Museum, runs along Cenotaph Road, the riders do a donut, before turning right on The Crescent, then left on Domain Drive and back on The Crescent.

They will then do another short loop, followed by another donut, then sprint to the finish line along Football Road.

Rally New Zealand CEO Michael Goldstein hopes a large crowd will turn out for the super stage.

“I would love to see over 10,000 people there,” Goldstein said.

“It starts at 6:08 p.m. and after daylight saving time, so it won’t get dark until 7:30 p.m.

“The WRC drivers will go first, there will be guys from WRC2 in the TV window, then the WRC. So from 6:08 p.m. to 7 p.m. it will be the guys from the world championship.

“We think the timing is working well,” he added.

“People can come after school or work, hopefully a lot of kids will come for what could be their first experience of rallying and it will be the first experience for anyone in New Zealand to see the new hybrid cars .”

Goldstein said the decision not to charge people to come to the Auckland Estate was made so that as many people as possible could experience what a WRC rally is.

“We want it to be spectacular and for as many new fans as possible to discover the sport,” he said.

“So we think it’s a very important part of the event. Certainly the rally won’t be won on this stage, but it could be lost in the event of a crash.

“A lot of our original fans are more interested in Whaanga Coast or Kaipara Hills, but hopefully for this leg it will draw a new group of fans into the event.”

Friday, the cars will leave Auckland around 5am to head for the first stage of the day, Whaanga Coast, they will then go on to the Te Akau South and Te Akau North stages.

After a tire change at Raglan they will repeat the loop for 156km of driving for the day and with no service for the cars, so if a car has an incident early the drivers will have to battle for the rest of the day.

Spectators won’t be able to see the Kaipara Hills stage on Saturday, but the Puhoi and Komokoriki stages provide excellent vantage points.

Then all the focus on the final day will be on Jacks Ridge, which features five jumps.

“All the spectators will be at Jacks Ridge and we’ll have a lot of people there,” Goldstein said.

“So it’s a big logistical exercise and what I would call a major sporting event in its own right.

“We’re all excited about it and the tickets are selling pretty well for it.”

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