NZ Rally Championship contenders face long-distance finale
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The return of Rally New Zealand next month as a Tauranga-based finale for the 2017 New Zealand Championship will be a long-distance rally touring some of the North Island’s best gravel roads.
The November 25-26 event base is ASB Baypark Stadium, but it will only be late on Saturday afternoon and the following day when teams will be at the Mt Maunganui venue.
Following a 6.15pm ceremonial start, display and autograph session at The Strand on Friday, the rally proper will start at Raglan airfield at 8.30am on Saturday.
A loop of three stages will be used twice on Saturday, all the roads well known from previous WRC Rally New Zealand events.
The 11.18km Te Hutewai stage serves as a warm-up for the demanding 29.77km Whaanga Coast stage before the first visit to the Raglan service park at 9.41am. Then the rally heads to the Te Akau South stage which provides 32.02km of action.
A second Raglan service break at 12.14pm is followed by a repeat loop of the Te Hutewai and Whaanga Coast roads and a return to the service park at 2.05pm.
Crews then race through Te Akau South a second time and, following a refuel at Te Uku, there is a 144km touring stage back to ASB Baypark for the 45-minute end-of-day service. Saturday’s route includes 145.94km of special stages and 350.64km of touring.
Sunday sees the first car depart from Baypark at 8.30am for the 24.25km Manawahe Rd stage, which includes the spectator point Helicopter Corner (the junction of Matahi Rd and Rendall Rd).
The other two stages are a 5.66km sprint through the TECT All Terrain Park at Pyes Pa and the nearby 10.56km Mangatoi Rd stage before a 20-minute service at ASB Baypark at 12.19pm.
The same three stages will be repeated during the afternoon before the finish ramp and prizegiving ceremony at ASB Baypark timed for 4.08pm.
The Sunday route includes 80.94km of competition and 328.20km of touring.
Sunday will also include the 2017 edition of the Motorsport BOP Clubmans and Novice Rally with competitors following the championship crews.