After 10 years, the field moved to New Zealand – Auto-Motor

Because of the long distance, of course, the pilots and their navigators leave for New Zealand early, spending the remaining time to acclimatize the race and get used to the time change. The fact that Sebastien Loeb, still partly racing, won the last New Zealand Rally shows how long the last New Zealand race was, but he did it all behind the wheel of a Citroen. Ten years before the start of Rally New Zealand, the French rally legend led the singles points table ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg. What is also interesting is that the Acropolis Rally, which recently returned to the competition calendar, preceded this distant competition until then.

The weekend race will be a gravel-filled rally, taking place on one of the most scenic terrain, where speed and pilots’ skills play a key role. During the three-day competition, field members can also test their skills in some of the best and most popular gravel sections of the World Championships. The smooth gravel surface doesn’t stress cars much, so the focus will be on the drivers’ performance, as legendary rally driver Walter Ruhrl once said: “The only limiting factor in New Zealand is driver ability.” Weather can play an important role here as well. When the weather is nice, the speed sections are a great experience, but when it rains, it can make the gravel roads very muddy and slippery. At this time, it is the beginning of spring in New Zealand, so teams pay special attention to weather reports. Temperatures between 15-19 degrees and scattered rain are expected this weekend, so choosing the right tires can be crucial to the final race result.

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Sebastien Ogier announced earlier that he will also start in New Zealand this season. This comes as no surprise, as Maidan is excited to be back for this long walk. However, it has exploded like a bombshell that the Frenchman, who has only started in select rallies this year, will take part in each of the last three rallies of the season, including the subsequent Spanish Rally and the season-ending Japanese Rally. That means the 2022 race season is over for Toyota’s relay partner, Esapekka Lappi. Hyundai won the Acropolis Rally, so the team traveled to the first Rally New Zealand in a very good mood. Although Hyundai is navigating unfamiliar waters, this location is not entirely new to its pilots. Indeed, Thierry Nouvel and Ott Tanak participated in the 2012 Rally, albeit with different team colors.

With only three rallies left in the season, speculation has begun about next year’s driver line-up. As for the points table leader, Toyota, it looks like it will keep its drivers from this year as well as next. Kalle Rovanpera and Elfyn Evans have been linked to the brand for longer decades. Little is known about Sebastien Ogier. The eight-time world rally champion is likely to start some races next year as well, as he is already talking about his favorite Monte Carlo Rally. This could mean that they and Lappi will take turns sharing the Yaris in 2023. Takamoto Katsuta is also expected to remain in the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Challenge Program for at least another year. If the weekend goes well for Kaley Rovanpera, we can celebrate the new world championship in New Zealand.

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the gathering
The first New Zealand Rally was held in 1969 and covered both the northern and southern islands. The rally has been part of the world championship since 1977, and in 1982 it became a permanent world championship. For a long time, drivers could only collect their World Championship points here, so the bigger teams stayed away. As a result, unexpected results were achieved, such as the victory of Austrian Franz Wittmann and Sepp Haider at the World Championships. Of all the nations, the biggest and greatest glory in this race were the British drivers, including Colin McRae, Richard Burns, Andrew Cowan and Russell Brooks.
Over the weekend, racers will test the capabilities and capabilities of their cars on 17 speed stages, with a total of 279.80 kilometers. The headquarters moved from Hamilton to Auckland in 2010, and this year it will be in the picturesque coastal part of the city.

World Championship standings after the Acropolis Rally:
1. Cali Rovanpera (FIN) Toyota Racing WRT 207 points
2. Out Tanak (EST) Hyundai WRT 154 points
3. Thierry Nouvel (Belgium) Hyundai WRT 113 points
4. Elfyn Evans (GBR) Toyota Racing WRT 116 points
5. Takamoto Katsuta (Japan) Toyota Racing WRT NG 100 points
6. Craig Breen (IRL) M-Sport Ford WRT 77 points
7. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) Toyota Racing WRT 58 points
8. Dani Sordo (Spain) Hyundai WRT 49 points
9. Joss Greensmith (GB) M-Sport Ford WRT 36 points
10. Sebastien Loeb (France) M-Sport Ford WRT 35 points

1. Toyota Racing WRT 404 Score
2. Hyundai WRT 341 points
3. M-Sport Ford WRT 214 points
4. Toyota Racing WRT NG 112 points

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