Rally Gisborne returns to the New Zealand rallying calendar on 7 August for the first time since 2005 with numerous top drivers from around the North Island confirmed as entrants.
A total of 53 entries have been received to date, with competitors from as far north as Whangarei and as far south as Wellington.
The Gisborne-based event is a round of both the Stilo Top Half rally series and the Geartech Central Region rally series. The two series account for 28 entries with four competitors registered to earn points in both series. Also entered are three drivers from the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), despite this being a non-points scoring event for them.
Among the notable entries is Havelock North’s Stewart Taylor in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, who missed the most recent NZRC round, the International Rally of Whangarei. Taylor’s pace early in the season saw him battling at the front of the field and if he can turn around the bad luck that kept him off the podium, he’s expected to be tough to beat in Gisborne. Also campaigning Mitsubishi’s latest offering are Taylor’s father Trevor and veteran Brian Green of Palmerston North, who celebrates 40 years of rallying this year. At the opposite end of the age scale, 18-year-old Alex Kelsey leads the Subaru charge along with Rotorua’s Ian Wood.
The Gisborne Rally route sees competitors tackle three stages that were used in Rally New Zealand, a World Rally Championship event, in the past. Each stage will be used twice, meaning a total of six special stages covering 137.6 competitive kilometres.
“The opening stage, Parikanapa, is a long climb up a hill, with lots of surface changes between gravel and tarmac,” says Rally Gisborne clerk of the course, Stuart Barnett. “The second stage, Ruakaka, is very picturesque, finishing at the entry to the beautiful Doneraille Park while the third stage, Pehiri, starts in a valley with lots of one-way bridges and cattle-stop grates before passing the Tahuna golf course.
Rally Gisborne runs on Saturday 7 August, with crews starting from the Gisborne Cosmopolitan Club at 9.30 am. Crews will tackle six stages to the west of the township before returning to the Cosmopolitan Club at approximately 5 pm for the official finish.
Fans wishing to see the action in Rally Gisborne can do so free of charge, with more information including a spectator map available from www.rallynz.org.nz in the Rally Gisborne section.