Fri 23 Sep 2022

Rally rewind: New Zealand 2012

Next week, the FIA World Rally Championship returns to New Zealand after a decade. We take a look back on some of the big moments from our last visit in 2012.

1. Loeb tops Citroën 1-2
Sébastien Loeb made another major gain towards achieving his ninth world title by heading team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in a dominant Citroën DS3 World Rally Car 1-2. 

Loeb trailed Hirvonen - who opened the road in damp conditions - for much of Friday’s opening leg before leapfrogging his colleague in the Te Akau North test while running a mixed tyre package. The Frenchman bolted hard compound rubber to the front of his DS3 with softs on the rear - and it worked!

The pair were closely matched on Saturday but, with Hirvonen unable get back in front, team orders came into play for Sunday - enabling Loeb to cruise to his 72nd WRC victory by 29.6sec.

2. Solberg’s tyre troubles
Petter Solberg brought his Ford Fiesta RS WRC home a respectable third overall, although the Norwegian could do little to pressure his Citroën rivals and ended more than a minute back from Hirvonen. 

He gave away that deficit on Friday at the cost of a poor tyre choice. By recommendation of his M-Sport team, Solberg chose hard compound tyres and he haemorrhaged time on the muddy roads.

3. A frustrated Latvala
Jari-Matti Latvala - now team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing - arrived in New Zealand keen to prove a point after crashes in Monte-Carlo, Mexico and Portugal. 

Things started well for the fresh-faced Finn as he filled the final podium spot heading into Friday afternoon’s run of Te Akau South - and then everything unravelled. Latvala’s Fiesta spun on the inside of a low-speed right-hander and he dropped over four minutes as spectators untangled the car from a fence. 

"This is unreal,” he complained. “Nothing works this year. We had to cut the [fence] wires before we could carry on. Very disappointing - I don't have the words for this anymore."

Latvala eventually fought back to finish seventh overall whilst also taking maximum Power Stage points.

4. Paddon excels
Hayden Paddon led the local charge in a Škoda Fabia S2000, finishing 12th overall as well as winning the SWRC category by more than half-an-hour. 

It wasn’t all plain-sailing for the Kiwi, however, as technical troubles on Friday left his Fabia without 2nd gear, 6th gear or a functioning clutch!

Trailer: Repco Rally New Zealand 2022

5. Tänak’s woes
Now an established world title-winning driver, the early stages of Ott Tänak’s WRC career were far from easy. 2012 marked his first full season in the sport’s top-flight and he finished just five out of 13 rounds without utilising restart rules in a Fiesta. 

A solid top-five finish in New Zealand looked all but certain for the Estonian until he made another mistake and retired after crashing just three stages from the end. 

Tänak was dropped from M-Sport Ford’s line-up the following year but came back full-time in 2015. He won the drivers’ title in 2019 with Toyota and starts next week’s fixture in pursuit of championship leader Kalle Rovanperä. 

  • Full coverage from Repco Rally New Zealand will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.


Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM