Across the Tasman, Australia’s national championship will enter another year using a control MRF tyre for all competitors, but in New Zealand, tyre freedoms continue to see new players join the series.
This season regular NZRC driver, Clinton Cunningham, will bolt the relatively unknown Zestino tyres to his Ford Fiesta Proto.
Cunningham has signed a two-year deal with the local Zestino rally tyres importer, replacing the previous deal he had with Maxxis tyres.
There are arguments for and against a control tyre in national championships, depending on your point of view and where your support is coming from.
In New Zealand, it means the freedom for competitors to choose the brand that suits them best. Whether that be Dunlop, Pirelli, Michelin, MRF, Zestino or any other brand ensures variety, and offers the chance for a particular tyre to excel in certain conditions that another tyre may struggle in.
And, of course, it opens up more sponsorship opportunities for competitors, which hopefully results in more cars on the entry list.
The New Zealand Rally Championship is riding a wave of enthusiasm at present, and 2019 again looks like being a cracker.