A five-round Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship awaits competitors in 2020 with three international events, a new rally and the return of WRC Rally New Zealand.
Championship organisers have today confirmed a five-round calendar that begins with the traditional season-opening Otago Rally, heading north to International Rally of Whangarei, stopping at Rally South Canterbury, making a trip to the Hawke’s Bay for the first time in nine years before finishing with the three-day WRC Rally New Zealand based out of Auckland.
It is the first time in history that three international events have featured on an NZRC calendar – Otago and Whangarei forming part of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the WRC round marking New Zealand’s return to the world championship for the first time since 2012.
Hawke’s Bay will see the return of some iconic stages that haven’t been used for a number of years and will be run by the Hawke’s Bay Car Club.
One of the key features of the 2020 championship is a calendar that balances consistent events with logistical requirements for teams. Events will run largely with five-week gaps, the only exception being a six-week gap between Whangarei and South Canterbury.
“We wanted to make it easier on our competitors and have worked hard to put together a schedule that caters for them,” coordinator Blair Bartels said.
“It isn’t easy trying to balance the needs of the competitors with that of the individual rally organisers who need to work around all sorts of scheduling challenges.
“We are sad to see both Canterbury and Waitomo miss out next year – we were unable to make the calendar work with their requirements next season.
“We would like to thank both rallies for their efforts in 2019 and in previous years and we hope to work with them again in the future.”
The fact that championship will culminate with the WRC event in Auckland is a major plus for championship organisers.
A three-day event to cap off the five-round championship means it is extremely likely that the championship will still be on the line and the new champion crowned at the final rally.
“Our competitor’s survey indicated that there was a real desire for a five-round championship if Rally New Zealand returned and we are able to deliver that,” Bartels added.
“Next year we actually add a day of competition compared to 2019 with nine days of action in total.
“We anticipate reverting to a six-round championship in 2021 when Rally New Zealand is not on the calendar.”
As was announced at the end of the 2019 season, Brian Green Property Group will return as title sponsor for a 10th season in 2020 while other major sponsors Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, Hella New Zealand and Stadium Finance are all likely to return as well.
2020 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship
3-5 April Rally Otago (APRC)
8-10 May Rally Whangarei (APRC)
20 June Rally South Canterbury
25 July Rally Hawke’s Bay
3-6 September Rally New Zealand (WRC)
Media release by Dale Budge, NZRC