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All you need to know about Rally New Zealand’s return as the world’s best drivers hit the gravel for the first time since 2012.

The drivers

Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä, chasing a place in sporting history, heads the entry list for the event.

The 21-year-old Rovanperä, current leader in the FIA World Rally Championship, could potentially wrap up the title with co-driver Jonne Halttunen.

In doing so Rovanpera, who has seven WRC victories to his credit already in his fledgling career, would become the youngest champion in the sport’s history.

He heads the international list of drivers and co-drivers from 13 nations to contest Rally New Zealand, the 32nd time the championship has been staged in this country, and the first time in over a decade.

His teammate and eight-time world champion, Sebastien Ogier will no doubt be motivated to extend his remarkable record of 54 WRC victories, and remove New Zealand from the small list of rally venues where he has not stood on the top of the podium.

The powerful Toyota Gazoo Racing team also includes Welshman Elfyn Evans, who has five WRC wins and 23 podiums to his credit, and Japan’s former karting and Formula 3 standout, Takamoto Katsuta. He came through the Toyota development programme under the watchful eye of Tommi Makinen, a four-time world champion.

The Hyundai challenge is led by Ott Tänak, the 2019 world champion from Estonia, and the experienced Belgian driver Thierry Neuville, who has 15 WRC rally wins since his debut in 2009.

Their team is rounded out with Sweden’s exciting 20-year-old Oliver Solberg, the 2020 FIA European Junior Champion, who is the son of 2003 world champion and fan favourite, Petter Solberg.

The M-Sport Ford challenge is headed by Ireland’s Craig Breen, who has scored two podiums this year, and England’s Gus Greensmith, a promising youth footballer at Manchester City, and 2014 British Junior Rally Champion.

The Ford team also includes Adrien Fourmaux, a former junior French Rally Champion and Italy’s Lorenzo Bertelli, who has been a regular with M-Sport for the last seven years.

Kiwi contingent

There will be considerable kiwi interest in the WRC2 category, led by 2011 Production WRC Champion and five-time New Zealand Rally Champion, Hayden Paddon. He has made a return to the WRC2 this year with the support from Hyundai New Zealand.

There will be plenty of support for current Supercars Championship leader, Shane van Gisbergen, who has put together a privateer campaign to realise a dream of competing in the rally that he watched many times as a youngster.

Two-time New Zealand Gold Star Champion Ben Hunt, who followed in his father’s footsteps into the sport over a decade ago, triple European Champion Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Australian Rally Champion Harry Bates will all be in the latest Skoda Fabia machines.

Schedule

Today:
Super Special Stage 1 – Pukekawa Auckland Doman

FridaySpecial Stage 2 – Whaanga Coast 1Special Stage 3 – Te Akau South 1Special Stage 4 – Te Akau North 1Special Stage 5 – Whaanga Coast 1Special Stage 6 – Te Akau South 2
Special Stage 7 – Te Akau North 1

SaturdaySpecial Stage 8 – Kaipara Hills 1Special Stage 9 – Puhoi 1Special Stage 10 – Komokoriki 1Special Stage 11 – Kaipara Hills 2Special Stage 12 – Puhoi 2
Special Stage 13 – Komokoriki 2

SundaySpecial Stage 14 – Whitford Forest – Te Maramunga Waiho 1Special Stage 15 – Jack’s Ridge Haunui 1Special Stage 16 – Whitford Forest – Te Maramunga Waiho 2
Special Stage 17 – Jack’s Ridge Haunui 2 Wolf Power Stage

Click here for course maps

Heading along

Free viewing:Pukekawa Auckland Domain Super Special Stage
Pukekawa Auckland Domain is free to attend. Parking will be on the surrounding streets.

The Repco Rally Village and Century Batteries Service Park
Hamer Street, Wynyard Quarter will be open today to Sunday and will have big screens to watch the live action.

Paying fans
Check the downloadable spectator maps on the Rally NZ site and select the spectator spots you want to go to. Make sure you check the ‘First Car Time’ as this will tell you when you will see the cars in action on that stage.

How to watch

The event will be live on Spark Sport.

Under the Helmet podcast

This is an entertaining and informative podcast showcasing the best from the land of the long gravel road targeting an audience who love motorsport and in particular the World Rally Championship.

Listen to the latest episode here.

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