Saturday, May 18, 2024

Rally stars ready to rock and roll

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The Whitford farm of former national rally champion Andrew Hawkeswood is set to play host to the final stage of this year’s Repco Rally New Zealand. Times file photo Wayne Martin

Some of the biggest names in international motorsport will soon descend on rural east Auckland for an event staged as part of the 2022 Repco Rally New Zealand.

The final day’s competition is at ‘Jacks Ridge Haunui’, on the Whitford property of former national rally champion Andrew Hawkeswood, which is named after his son, successful rally driver Jack Hawkeswood.

It’s the first time Rally NZ is back in Auckland for more than a decade with events running from September 29 to October 2 as round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Organisers say the purpose-built 7km stage Jacks Ridge stage will be run twice on October 2, including as the ‘Wolf Power Stage’ which ends the event and offers extra championship points that may crown the 2022 World Rally Champion.

It will be the first time in the event’s history a full special stage has been developed in stadium-type surroundings with crowds of more than 10,000 expected to turn out to enjoy the high-octane spectacle.

Among the large number of international stars on show will be France’s Sebastien Ogier, an eight-time winner of the World Rally Drivers’ Championship.

He’s set to face off against numerous other overseas drivers as well as Kiwi motorsport stars including Hayden Paddon and Shane van Gisbergen.

Rally NZ chief executive Michael Goldstein says: “Motorsport fans are buzzing to have the World Rally Championship back in this country.

“We are going to celebrate the greatest show on dirt across Auckland with the world’s best drivers on show.

“Thanks to the Hawkeswood family we have an incredible stadium-like stage right here on the edge of the city.

“Jacks Ridge will be a game-changer for the sport both with the viewing on offer and the spectacular action, and for that we owe an incredible debt to Andrew Hawkeswood.

“We’re lucky he’s had the vision to turn this landfill into something special for the sport.”

The action at the Whitford property on October 2 will feature a full day of entertainment including a showcase of historic rally cars and other iconic vehicles driven by cross-code motorsport stars in a special event over the course.

Among those set to take part are international speedway star Michael Pickens, Kiwi drifting legend ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett piloting his stadium truck, and quadbike driver Ian Ffitch.

It will also feature Ari Prettigrew driving Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai Kona electric rally car, Shane van Gisbergen’s father Robert van Gisbergen in his historic Ford Escort, and Alister McRae, a member of the world-famous McRae rallying family, driving his Subaru Impreza.

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