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Tue 27 Sep 2022

New Zealand: The best stages in the world?

For a decade, Finland has been praised for having the best roads in the FIA World Rally Championship. Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal – and the proudest of Finns – Jari-Matti Latvala admits that might not be the case now.

This week’s Repco Rally New Zealand (29 September - 2 October) brings back a set of stages loved right around the world – even in Finland.

“I have to admit,” said Latvala, “from a driver’s side, New Zealand has the best roads. I always say it like this: Finland has the best atmosphere for a rally, but New Zealand has the stages.

“The nice thing about the roads [in New Zealand] is the camber, the way you can take more speed into the corner. The stages are generally quite fast and they flow nicely. OK, they don’t have the same sort of jumps we have in Finland, but still they are very nice to drive.”

One man who knows how the roads around Auckland stack up against Jyväskylä is the man who won in Finland this summer, Ott Tänak - and the Estonian’s verdict is equally positive.

“It seems as if they were made for rallying," he said. "I competed at Rally New Zealand 10 years ago and I have good memories of the event, so I am looking forward to going back.

"I have been watching videos to refresh myself and the roads look fantastic.”

The waiting’s over: by the end of this week, the drivers will have decided where the cherished mantle of the world’s best roads rests.