Drivers rally for more New Zealand events
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Leading drivers are calling for more events in next year's New Zealand Rally Championship.
The series expanded to a sixth event this year and features the return of the traditional Rally New Zealand in November in what organisers hope will be a dry run for a WRC event a year later.
But the growth of the championship has seen drivers demand more rallies be included in the 2018 plans.
WRC star Hayden Paddon will return to New Zealand to compete in two of the three remaining rounds but is also involved in running the Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4+ car that has been driven by David Holder and Job Quantock so far.
"I think it would be great to see more rallies in the national championship," Paddon told the Herald.
"We see now after Canterbury more than a two-month gap until the next rally. You could fill those gaps with more rallies.
"Okay, more rallies mean more costs for competitors, but I think they could bring back the rule they used to have that X amount of rallies count towards the championship. You don't necessarily have to be doing all the rallies."
NZRC 2015 champion Ben Hunt is another driver who wants to see the series grow. He believes if the organisers are smart they could run events back-to-back in certain parts of the country to save on shipping costs.
"You could look to do two or three rallies in the South Island before you bring the cars back to save on ferry crossings and what not," Hunt said.
"Rallying is a family sport so you'd look to leave your car in Christchurch or Nelson to help save on costs."
This year's championship saw cars start at the two-day Rally Otago in early April before the International Rally of Whangarei, which is jointly run with the Asia-Pacific Championship at the end of April.
The one-day Rally Canterbury took place over Queen's Birthday weekend but there is a gap of over two months until the series finishes with one-day events in Coromandel and Waikato and the two-day Rally New Zealand based out of Tauranga.
"I think there is room for a minimum of another two rounds there - I think an eight-round championship would be a well-balanced championship," Paddon said.
"Maybe even throw in a tarmac rally - the tarmac also throws in a lot more hurdles as well.
"I think there are many good rallies that could host a national championship rally."
The Daybreaker Rally in Manawatu, Rotorua, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, New Plymouth, Wairarapa and Nelson have all played home to events in the past decade.
Organisers would also like to see a rally closer to the population base in Auckland, possibly out of Pukekohe and using the Maramarua Forest.
Holden star Greg Murphy, who has pursued a rallying career after finishing his time in Supercars, thinks the existing calendar is perfect and compared it to other domestic motorsport series that consist of five-six rounds.
A decision on the 2018 calendar won't be made until later in the year.