Valuable changes for penultimate NZ Rally Championship event
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The major change to this year’s Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel — the penultimate round of the New Zealand Rally Championship on August 18 — will come the day before the rally.
The event will feature familiar stages but will offer crews a valuable chance to perfect their pace-noting craft by scheduling a two-pass reconnaissance, the first time a national status event has done so.
International events including Rally Whangarei and Rally of New Zealand have provided two-pass recce opportunities but a single pass is standard on national events — which is a challenge for crews to make and check their own pace notes.
It’s a change that has the support of 2016 New Zealand rally champ Dave Holder who has taken his career offshore this year in the FIA Junior World Championship.
“I’d say the biggest hurdle we’ve had to getting on the pace overseas has been writing our own pace notes,” says Holder.
“It’s not something we regularly do in New Zealand, so getting another chance at Coromandel will be really valuable.”
Holder says he’ll enter the event — which falls between the Finland and Turkey rounds of the JWRC — in the clubmans category, with his focus not on achieving a result but on writing and checking notes with co-driver Jason Farmer.
“With two passes [the same as all WRC events] we’ve jumped at the chance,” says Holder.
“It’s great for New Zealand drivers and it will also be welcomed by the Australians such as Nathan Quinn, Brendan Reeves and Richie Dalton who have been competing in New Zealand this year.”
Jason Farmer (left) and David Holder (right), pictured with their JWRC Ford Fiesta rally car. Photo / supplied
The Coromandel event has been an NZRC fixture since 2014 and is again based in Whitianga with the service park and rally headquarters at the Mercury Bay Sports Park.
Eight stages are planned with several detail changes from the 2017 event. The Kennedy Bay stage has been shortened considerably, while mileage is restored to the rally by adding a third pass through the 309 Rd to make the rally about 10km shorter than last year.
The itinerary for the August 18 rally starts at 7am from Whitianga and the route loops north to the Kennedy Bay stage (22.60km) starting at 8.23am and then races across the peninsula on the 309 Rd (11.45km) at 9.26am before a return to the service park at 9.51am.
The second loop runs west through the Tapu-Coroglen Rd (16.69km) at 10.48am followed by a refuel at Coromandel town, Kennedy Bay 2 at 12.31pm and 309 Rd 2 at 1.34pm. After the second visit to the service park the rally loops through Tapu-Coroglen 2 at 2.56pm and 309 Rd 3 at 4.04pm before a slightly altered version of the 1km Joan Gaskell Drive tarmac super special stage at 4.37pm.
Crews will have covered 114km of special stages when they reach the 5.15pm finish ceremony at Blacksmith Lane.
The mid-August event will be only the second gravel surface rally in the North Island this year.