Northland is abuzz again this weekend, as the International Rally of Whangarei (IRW) kicks into gear for the second round of the NZRC.
With 16 special stages covering 288.16km, fans are in for a spectacle; not only will the Dunlop-shod NZRC drivers be raring to go, but teams from Finland, Japan, India and Australia are in town for the opening round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
Spearheading the Kiwi assault is three-time IRW winner Hayden Paddon, who has a 12-point lead in this year’s championship over four-time NZRC victor Richard Mason.
4WD rookie Ben Hunt and Emma Gilmour – driving her heavily modified Suzuki Swift – will also pose a threat.
Ford Fiesta exponents Josh Marston, David Holder and Phil Campbell will lead Dunlop’s charge in the 2WD Category, as well as competing in the APRC.
Dunlop motorsport manager Richard Fraser says the roads through Whangarei and Kaipara districts are typically quite tough on tyres, especially as they’ve had rain this week.
“Drivers are allowed 12 tyres a day - as opposed to ten – to make things a bit easier for them,” said Richard. “They’ll all end up driving about 730 km, which is a fair distance.”
“It’s going to be fascinating to see how our homegrown stars fare against the international visitors contesting the APRC, and hopefully it pulls in another big crowd.”