Thu 29 Sep 2022

What makes Rally New Zealand so special?

Emerging from the Whaanga Coast stage, Craig Breen eased his Ford Focus RS recce car to a stop, rolled down the window and grinned. He couldn’t stop grinning.

Welcome to Rally New Zealand.

“It’s special,” said M-Sport’s Irishman. “I’ve waited a long time to come down here and do this rally and this isn’t going to disappoint. In fact, it’s going to be even better than I’d imagine. 

“That stage [Whaanga Coast] is just fantastic – the onboards and all the footage just don’t do it justice. I came around a couple of corners and the road just opens up in front of you with camber after camber and you can just imagine the car dancing its way through.”

Absence has undoubtedly made the heart grow fonder for this week’s Auckland-based event. It has been 10 years since the world’s fastest drivers have been down these roads, but that doesn’t matter, the wait is over.

And it is fantastic to be back. For the majority of the service park, it’s been a day on a plane to get here, so just setting foot in downtown Auckland is a great moment. 

But this being NZ, there’s not really time to catch your breath – it’s immediately onto an America’s Cup sailboat and out into the Hauraki Gulf and then on to a sporting encounter almost as epic as the WRC round itself as the All Blacks take on Australia is one of world rugby’s biggest occasions.

Proud Welshman Elfyn Evans admitted he impressed with the Kiwi points machine on Saturday night.

Repco Rally New Zealand 2022: Re-Live SSS1 Pukekawa Auckland

“Obviously it’s not quite a match in Cardiff,” he smiled, “but it was pretty impressive – I have to admit I was cheering for the All Blacks. Then again, I was standing in their hospitality!”

New Zealand does sport like few other places on planet earth; the build-up for this week’s 12th round of the WRC season is set to the backdrop of preparations for the Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicks off early next month.

The City of Sails always has a buzz about it, but this week’s that frisson of energy is offering an even bigger jolt than normal.

We’re back in the land of the long white cloud and the good stuff is right about to get great.

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