Weekend Herald

Pad­don, van Gis­ber­gen set for Auck­land Rally

- Mo­tor­sport Eric Thomp­son

Hot on the heels of the re­cent an­nounce­ment of the Rally New Zealand’s Bat­tle of Jacks Ridge to be held in Novem­ber, Rally New Zealand chair­man Peter John­ston has now re­vealed it’ll be a bumper week­end.

The week­end of Novem­ber 14- 15 will be a god­send for rally fans who suf­fered the can­cel­la­tion of the re­turn of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship to our shores, and also the New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship.

The good news, how­ever, is that as well as the gravel bo­nanza at Jacks Ridge, the City of Auck­land Rally is hap­pen­ing the day be­fore.

“We are gut­ted Covid- 19 forced the can­cel­la­tion of Rally New Zealand this year,” John­ston told the Week­end Her­ald.

“We are fight­ing hard to bring the event back in the fu­ture and the City of Auck­land Rally gives us a chance to show­case what an amaz­ing event we could run down here. It is go­ing to be a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence for our best driv­ers here in New Zealand.”

Some of the most iconic stages used in Rally New Zealand years ago will see driv­ers tear­ing across the gravel in Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and River­head For­est be­fore fin­ish­ing at the purpose- built Jacks Ridge stage in Whit­ford.

There will be 121km of com­pe­ti­tion through stages that haven’t been used for a long time but are steeped in ral­ly­ing his­tory. Com­peti­tors will get the chance to drive on stages used in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We had all the in­fras­truc­ture and roads sorted for the WRC round. Once it got can­celled, we de­cided to use what we had al­ready cre­ated and have the City of Auck­land Rally to get over the Covid blues.”

The li st of driv­ers who have al­ready put pen to pa­per i s im­pres­sive. Two of the ma­jor head­lin­ers are for­mer WRC round win­ner Hay­den Pad­don and the master of any­thing with an en­gine in it — Shane van Gis­ber­gen.

Keep­ing them hon­est will be reign­ing New Zealand rally cham­pion Ben Hunt, Sloan Cox and tal­ented young­ster Jack Hawkeswood.

“Hay­den’s rep­u­ta­tion and tal­ent speaks for it­self and Shane grew up on dirt. He’s a for­mer na­tional ATV cham­pion and spent time in his early ca­reer in Quar­ter Mid­gets,” says John­ston.

“Shane has al­ways loved rally [ his father Robert ral­lied through­out New Zealand], so I ap­proached him, and he was keen to do it.

“He’s fly­ing back straight af­ter Bathurst and quar­an­tines for t wo weeks just to do this event. That’s a big call for him and we re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Hay­den’s rep­u­ta­tion and tal­ent speaks for it­self and Shane grew up on dirt.

Rally New Zealand chair­man Peter John­ston

The rally starts at Kumeu Show­grounds at 7.50am be­fore cars head north to the 16km Kaipara Hills stage. They then tackle the 23km Puhoi test be­fore a 16km stage through River­head For­est in Auck­land’s north­west.

Af­ter a late morn­ing ser­vice back in Kumeu, driv­ers will head out to re­peat the early three- stage loop be­fore a sec­ond ser­vice mid- af­ter­noon.

Af­ter a drive south of the city, the com­peti­tors will then have two runs through the 6km purpose- built Jacks Ridge stage on for­mer NZRC cham­pion An­drew Hawkeswood’s farm.

“The Jacks Ridge stage is a world­class WRC power stage and would have been a real high­light on the WRC cal­en­dar this year,” said John­ston.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand