Smoke seen from Rally NZ embers

Hope remains that Rally New Zealand will be added to the WRC calendar in 2022, as countries push to have their events included.

For the past two years the World Rally Championship has been solely based in Europe because of the pandemic, but the FIA is keen for the series to branch out once again.

With nine of the rallies for 2022 already pretty well locked in, that leaves only three or four places, and New Zealand is high on the list of those expected to take one of those spots.

According to a recent report in the motorsport media, New Zealand, Croatia and the UK are the favourites..

“As you can imagine, there’s a long list. Nothing’s decided yet,” WRC Promoter event director, Simon Larkin, said.

“We know that Australia is out for 2022, but we’re looking to finalize a deal with them for the following year. Basically, the remainder of the 2022 calendar is a work in progress.”

Talk Motorsport believes that those close to Rally New Zealand are quietly confident that something may come of those talks, but that’s not the official word.

“There is nothing to report,” Rally New Zealand’s PJ Johnston said when contacted.

Any return to the World Rally Championship for the event would see it most likely be run in September.

APRC finale looking doubtful for Kiwis

Meanwhile, it is looking less and less likely that there will be much of a New Zealand presence at the final round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Five competitors, nominated by MotorSport New Zealand, have the chance to contest the Coffs Harbour based event on the final weekend in November.

As a bonus, they will each receive $3,000NZD to assist them in competing at the event.

However, despite the prize drive in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car in a round of the 2022 WRC, the dreaded pandemic is putting paid to most plans.

With Sydney still in an extended COVID-19 induced lockdown and borders between the two countries locked shut, any NZ crews wanting to head to Australia have had to put their plans on hold.

“We are sitting on our hands at the moment. We will see how the lockdown situation unfolds before making a decision,” Force Motorsport’s Andrew Hawkeswood said.

Another spanner in the works comes with the scheduling of the Battle of Jack’s Ridge rallysprint two weeks before the APRC round, which means competitors (including Hayden Paddon) won’t be able to ship their own cars to Australia for the finale.

Paddon has already said that if he was to contest the Coffs Harbour event, he would need to do so in a car sourced from Australia.

Depending on how the lockdowns in New South Wales progress, the FIA may be forced into cancelling the APRC finale for 2021, as they had to do in 2020.

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

http://rallysportmag.com

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