The 2008 Repco Rally New Zealand was one of the best World Rally Championship events ever run in New Zealand, organisers have reported.

"That opinion is shared by the many thousands of people who organised, contested and watched the local round of the WRC this year," said Chris Carr, chairman of Repco Rally New Zealand.

"The last day's battle between WRC's arch-rivals Citroen and Ford provided another thrilling finish to Repco Rally New Zealand and it was just fantastic to see such intense competition taking place on New Zealand roads between the world's best rally drivers.

"And while sporting interest in Repco Rally New Zealand relies on WRC stars like Swbastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen, the event is much more than just these top rally drivers. It involves the New Zealand and international competitors who make up more than two-thirds of the field and their support crews, sponsors, volunteers, local and international officials, the media and all the communities and councils on whose roads the rally runs."

The signing of leading automotive parts retailer, Repco, as the naming rights' sponsor earlier this year, provided the long-running international event with some much needed impetus following changes in government legislation which effectively ended the very successful partnership Rally New Zealand had built with previous sponsor, Propecia.

"The lift in profile of the whole event was evident from the very first announcement that Repco had signed with Rally New Zealand," Carr added. "From that fantastic start, Repco's support for the event just grew and grew. The advertising support was phenomenal with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of television, radio and print advertising, trade promotions with Repco's suppliers, several fantastic competitions for rally fans and innovative, popular promotions such as the Repco Rally Road Tour which visited nine the Repco stores in the Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

"You simply can't fault the enthusiasm that the whole Repco team bought to the event and that's reflected in significantly more spectators coming to watch the rally action."

More than 50 per cent more gold passes were sold this year than in 2007. For $95, a gold pass provided the spectator with access to all rural prime spectator areas and the Mystery Creek Events Centre, which has been home to the rally for the last three years.

"Naturally it's difficult to determine exact crowd numbers, but even our spectators were saying crowd numbers were significantly greater than last year," Carr continued. "We estimate up to 100,000 people saw some aspect of the event live over the three days while another 175,000 watched Repco Rally Live, the Sky Television broadcast package."

One of the many benefits of increased spectator numbers is that 50 per cent of the income generated from the sale of spectator passes is returned to the local community groups who arrange the spectator areas and assist with marshals on the day.

"In terms of media coverage, the 2008 Repco Rally New Zealand was one of the best publicised events we've had," Carr concluded. "Media evaluation reports indicate well over $2 million worth of media coverage in just the six weeks around the event and we know, despite competing against the very understandable media interest in the Olympics, we had a lot more TV, radio, print and web coverage. We're just delighted with the interest and support shown for Repco Rally New Zealand.

"Naturally there's a fair bit of interest in what events will be run by Rally New Zealand next year, as New Zealand hasn't been allocated a round of the World Rally Championship on the 2009 WRC calendar - the closest will be Repco Rally Australia which has just announced it will run in northern New South Wales on 3-6 September 2009. The directors of Rally New Zealand are discussing options for 2009 and expect to make an announcement within the next month.

"In 2010 we will again host a WRC round in New Zealand and we are talking with Repco about continuing what has already proved to be a very successful sponsorship partnership."

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